LAS VEGAS-The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team has its groove back.
The Aggies defeated Campbell 85-60 on Friday morning at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the opening game of the 2012 Global Sports Classic. It was the most points the Aggies have scored in a game this season, and was their best shooting performance of the season.
"It's amazing what happens when you see the ball go through the net," said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. "It makes you want to play a little bit harder. It gives you a little bounce to your step."
After not shooting more than 36 percent in their last four games, the Aggies snapped their four-game losing streak by shooting 61 percent against the Camels. The Aggies had five players score in double figures, including 19 each from freshman Bruce Beckford and junior Lamont Middleton. Beckford went 8-for-8 from the floor and had a team-high eight rebounds, while Middleton finished 7-for-11 with five assists. Senior Adrian Powell contributed 14 points, while seniors R.J. Buck and Jean Louisme added 13.
"I just want to commend our young men for following the game plan," Alexander said. "I thought we shared the basketball really, really well."
The Aggies, who had lost their previous three games against Campbell entering Friday's game, came out strong and stayed in control.
Middleton scored the first nine points of the game, giving A&T a 9-5 lead in the first five minutes of the contest. A Louisme 3-pointer from the corner of the floor ignited a 9-0 run that gave A&T a 23-14 lead with 10:28 remaining in the first half. The Aggies extended their lead to 43-29 by halftime as they shot 67 percent from the floor.
"It was huge. It gave us the confidence that we've been lacking the last four game," Alexander said of the team's first half. "I thought our young men came out focused. Early on some shots fell for us, which hadn't been the case in our four previous losses. I think that kind of fueled them and gave them confidence. It was a close game early on and then we had a defensive run that kind of gave us a little lead. Our confidence built."
The Aggies didn't let up after the break. In the second half, the Aggies forced five Campbell stops to open the half, including a pair of turnovers. A 3-pointer form Buck gave the Aggies a 52-33 lead with 15:39 remaining. A free throw by Beckford capped off a 9-0 run to make it a 73-46 contest.
"I think this is a good win for our team, knowing that they can play against good mid-major competition. Hopefully we can take this win and build on it," Alexander said.