GREENSBORO – The North Carolina A&T men’s basketball team closed out its exhibition season with a 76-39 win over Allen University at Corbett Sports Center.
Despite having trouble hitting free throws and finding an offensive rhythm against the Yellow Jackets zone in the first half, the Aggies were never really threatened Wednesday night. A&T head coach Cy Alexander went with a smaller lineup to open the second half in order to get better perimeter shooting against the zone and a quicker lineup on the floor to use his pressure defense.
Alexander’s changes had the effect he wanted. Jeremy Underwood scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, going 4-for-6 in the final 20 minutes, as he connected on three 3-pointers. Senior Richaud Pack led all scorers with 19 after hitting all seven of his free throws.
“We kept telling Richaud to be ready to shoot,” said Alexander. “He is one of our better shooters so we have to live with his shots. But I like the fact that Jeremy got a little confidence with his shot tonight.”
The Aggies also recorded 18 steals led by Underwood’s five. Maurice Taylor and Richaud Pack had four apiece.
“I was glad we got a chance to work on our zone offense all night because coach never came out of it,” said Alexander. “We also got a great chance to work on our pressure defense. I thought we caused them a few problems with it.”
The Aggies will get a chance to put some of their preseason experiments to use starting on Friday night when they play their season opener at Corbett against Greensboro College at 7 p.m. Alexander will have to heavily rely on a number of first-year players in order to be successful in 2013-14. The Aggies outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 45-30 led by freshman Steven Burrough’s eight.
Freshman Khary Doby and junior Waylan Siverand had seven rebounds apiece. Before he left with a bloody lip in the first half, freshman Jerome Simmons had eight points and four rebounds.
“I was happy to see our freshmen play so well,” Alexander said. “The more we get them some experience, the better our team is going to be.”
A&T led 32-16 at the half. The Aggies maintained that same lead, 41-25, with 15:08 to play in the game. But Underwood’s first second-half three completed a 7-0 run that put A&T ahead by 23. Jerrod Pettus ended the run with a jump shot, but the Yellow Jackets went more than seven minutes without a point. By the time they scored again on a Derrick McCord 3-pointer, the Aggies’ lead had grown to 62-30 with 6:18 to play.
The blowout occurred despite the Aggies not dressing out Bruce Beckford, Nick Reese, Michael Briscoe and Bryan Akingukbe because of minor injuries.
“They may be able to go (on Friday night), they may not,” Alexander said. “I don’t know. We have to go with what we’ve got and be ready for Greensboro College.”