EDWARDSVILLE – SIUE men's basketball led wire-to-wire Thursday as it opened the Ohio Valley Conference season with a 73-57 win over Jacksonville State at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars have won four in a row and improve to 5-7 for the season. It is the first time SIUE has opened the OVC season with a win since the 2011-12 campaign. Jacksonville State has lost four in a row and is 7-8 overall and 0-1 in the OVC.
SIUE has limited each of its four opponents to fewer than 60 points during the winning streak, which is the longest-ever for the Cougars at the Division I level. The Cougars held the Gamecocks to just 33.9 percent (20-59) shooting and outrebounded Jacksonville State 37-32 for the game.
"Our guys did a good job again paying attention to details defensively and executing," SIUE head coach Lennox Forrester said. "We also did a good job with getting on the glass and blocking out. For us to lead this team in rebounds is important. I'm very pleased with our effort and energy especially on the defensive end."
Rozell Nunn led four Cougar players in double figures. He scored a game-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He added a three-pointer and was 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
"Rozell did a great job getting us going," Forrester said. "He gave us some 'energy buckets.' They weren't just threes, but some baskets at the rim. We did a good job, as a team, finishing around the rim and he was a big part of that."
Seniors Kris Davis and Michael Messer each scored 13 points. Davis connected on his first five attempts during the game and finished an efficient 6 for 7. Messer was 4 for 8 overall and 3 for 5 from three-point range.
"We're going to continue to need those contributions from the bench," Forrester said. "We're battling and we're going to need everyone, every single night."
For the game, SIUE connected on 54.2 percent (26-48) of its shots from the floor and outscored Jacksonville State 36-16 in points in the paint.
"We want to attack the basket rather than settling for jump shots," Davis said. "If our shots aren't falling, eventually layups will fall. We want to stay aggressive and not be a passive, jump-shooting team."
SIUE wraps up its season-long five-game home stand with a 6:30 p.m. game Saturday against Tennessee Tech.