GREENSBORO (November 10, 2017) – After a disappointing 2016-17 season, putting some wins together in November is something the North Carolina A&T men’s basketball team sees as important. They got off to a good start on Friday with a 104-80 win over Division III Greensboro College at Corbett Sports Center. orts Center Friday night.
The Aggies improved to 6-0 against the downtown Greensboro school located 1 ½ miles from N.C. A&T’s campus. N.C. A&T reached the century mark for the first time since scoring 108 points against Johnson & Wales on Nov. 23, 2011.
Junior Femi Olujobi had an impressive debut in front of the home crowd by posting 34 points and 10 rebounds on 13-for-19 shooting. He also made 8 of 12 from the free throw line. Olujobi is a Division I transfer out of Oakland University who was one of three Division I transfers who sat out for the Aggies last season.
While not a Division I transfer, Denzel Keyes, who once doubled as a record-breaking wide receiver for the Aggies football team, also missed the 2016-17 basketball season. He made an impressive return on Friday, scoring 17 points and pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. Six of his rebounds came on the offensive end as the Aggies out rebounded the Pride 50-36 overall and 20-11 on the offensive glass.
Keyes and Olujobi are the first Aggie duo to post double-doubles in the same game since Keyes teamed with Bruce Beckford to do it at Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 29, 2016.
“Femi is where we are going to start our offense most nights,” said N.C. A&T coach Jay Joyner. “We don’t think he is going to give us 30 every night, but we ‘re hoping he can average around 15 a night. If we get two or three other guys averaging in double figures or close to it, I think we’ll be okay offensively.”
While Joyner was pleased with the 100-point night from the Aggies, he was a little less thrilled about the 80 the Pride posted. The smaller Pride were quick off the dribble. They used that dribble to penetrate the lane for layups or drives and dishes for 3-point attempts. GC was also effective with the crossover dribble to shoot step-back jump shots.
“Defensively, we are still under construction,” said Joyner. “Way too many times tonight we got beat off the dribble. We have worked and worked on defense, in fact, two weeks ago I would have never thought we would score 100 points. That’s how far behind we were on offense because we were working on defense. We have to take more pride in playing defense.”
GC’s ability to get to the rim had them trading baskets with the taller Aggies for most of the first half. The Pride led 25-24 on two Trey Smith free throws with 8:41 remaining in the first half. It would be the Pride’s final lead of the game. N.C. A&T’s superior size started to play a factor.
N.C. A&T used its height and grit to get to the free throw line to make 7 of 8 from the line to take its biggest lead at the point, 35-28 with six minutes to play in the first half. GC’s Kyle Ridley scored on a layup to get back to within five, but the Aggies dominated from there. A 3-pointer from junior college transfer Kwei Lartey followed by a 3-point play from senior Donte Watson gave the Aggies a 41-30 lead. The Pride never got the lead under 10 from there. Lartey would score again before Olujobi hit two free throws to cap the Aggies 10-0 run for a 45-30 lead.
The Aggies would end their first-half scoring with Lartey driving to the basket and finding Olujobi underneath for a dunk as the Aggies went into the locker room with a 49-37 lead. Lartey’s assists was one of 22 the Aggies recorded on Friday.
“The most important stat of any game is a ‘W’,” said Joyner. “We really shouldn’t worry about who gets the shine. We have to continue to share the ball to be successful.”
Amari Hamilton came off the bench to score 10 points. In his college debut, freshman Kameron Langley had 10 assists against only one turnover. Langley became the first Aggie to compile 10 or more assists in a game since teammate Austin Williams recorded 10 on Dec. 17, 2014 at Ohio State.
Darus Maddox led the Pride with 24 points. N.C. A&T returns to action 2 p.m., Sunday as they go on the road to face the Clemson Tigers.