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Contact: Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications
Eastern Florida Men Respond With Second-Half Run for 107-62 Victory
Dec. 11, 2013 - Throughout the season the motto for Eastern Florida State College's men's basketball team has been "Win Every Possession."
And after a so-so first half against an undermanned TAAG Academy team that dressed only six players Eastern Florida did just that. The Titans went on a 10-minute, 23-second tear to turn a four-point game into a 25-point lead and an eventual 107-62 victory on Wednesday in the Melbourne Campus gym.
The victory moved Eastern Florida to 10-1 on the season and was its 24th straight at home. It also marked the ninth time the Titans have scored 80 points or more and the third time they exceeded 100.
Interestingly it was defense that made the difference. After allowing TAAG (4-8) seven first-half three-pointers and one to open the second half that made the score 43-39, the Titans clamped down defensively. They did not allow TAAG a basket from the floor until 9:37 remained to be played. By then the score was 76-43 in the Titans favor and the only thing in doubt was the final score.
The first half frustrated Titans head coach Jeremy Shulman and he conveyed that message to his team.
"The problem was not offense, the problem was defense and rebounding," Shulman said. "That's the staple of our team, the staple of our program. We did not guard the basketball. We couldn't get any easy transition buckets but we didn't get stops. We didn't chase shooters off the three-point line. We didn't rebound well enough and we gave up interior buckets. It didn't matter what defense we ran.
"That was our main focus coming in and sure enough very first possession of the second half we gave up another three-pointer but then we buckled down."
Sophomore Mike Kirkland led Eastern Florida with 26 points. Classmate Shaheed Davis and Jure Gunjina added 19 and 13 respectively while freshman Demetrius McReynolds scored 12 and sophomore Torrance Rowe 11. Freshman Landus Anderson was the sixth Titan in double figures with 10.
Kirkland agreed with Shulman's assessment.
"Coach talked to us at halftime about not playing the score, not playing what team we are playing just playing hard every possession," Kirkland said. "We knew we had to win every possession coming out at halftime. We knew we had to play better. In the first half we were turning the ball over a lot. We fixed that and we turned it up."
The game was a rematch with TAAG which last visited on Saturday Nov. 16 and frustrated the Titans for most of the afternoon before succumbing 80-53.
Next up for Eastern Florida, which is ranked sixth in Florida, is nationally fifth-ranked and No. 1-state ranked Chipola College (10-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Florida College Shootout at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. The Titans then play No. 4-state ranked Santa Fe (10-2) at 7 p.m. Sunday on its home court.
The Eastern Florida-Santa Fe game will be webcast at www.ihigh.com/santafesaints
Gunjina believes Wednesday's victory will prepare the Titans for what will be their toughest weekend to date this season.
"Great teams respond great," Gunjina said. "We've got 10 good players on the team who want to score. I'm happy because everyone who played showed they can do their best. The 40-point difference shows it.
"This is the preparation," Gunjina added about the upcoming games. "This is probably one of the best games we've had this year. I hope it's going to make us better. We've got two more days to prepare."
After the Christmas break the Titans play a Dec. 30-31 tournament at Tallahassee Community College and a Jan. 3-4 tournament at Pasco-Hernando Community College. Their next home game is the Jan. 8 Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference opener against Indian River State College.
Admission to Eastern Florida home games in the Melbourne Campus gym is free.