Title image via Ian Penny
Courtesy of Jackson State Athletics
Houston, Texas – The Jackson State men’s basketball road warriors will travel to H-Town to face one of the best teams in the country, the No. 3/2 Houston Cougars, on Saturday afternoon at the Fertitta Center. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.
The Tigers (2-6) are coming off a 75-71 road win at Arkansas State. Ken Evans Jr. scored 32 points and added five rebounds and two steals to lead the Tigers. Jordan O’Neal helped out with four points, seven rebounds, and five blocks, and Chase Adams chipped in with 10 points and two steals coming off the bench for the win.
Houston (9-0) comes into the contest ranked No. 3 in the most recent AP poll and No. 2 in the coaches poll. They are averaging 75.0 points a game while holding opponents to just 49.1 points, which is good enough to lead all of the NCAA in scoring defense. L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp led the Cougars, averaging 17.4 and 11.6 points per game, and they are a combined 44-51 from the free-throw line.
- This will be the first meeting between Jackson State and Houston.
Scouting the Cougars
- Houston, under the direction of head coach Kelvin Sampson, who is in his 10th season leading the Cougars, comes into the contest ranked No. 3 in the most recent AP poll and No. 2 in the coaches poll. In the initial NET rankings, which the NCAA released earlier this week, they came in first place.
- They are 9-0 on the season, averaging 75.0 points a game while holding opponents to just 49.1 points a game. They lead the NCAA in scoring defense.
- Houston is outrebounding opponents by 9.1 rebounds per game, as they average 41.3 rebounds per game while allowing just 32.2 per game.
- L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp led the Cougars, averaging 17.4 and 11.6 points per game, and they are a combined 44-51 from the free-throw line. The duo has taken most of the shots for Houston, taking 203 of the 553 shots.
- Houston is competing as a member of the Big 12 Conference for the first time during the 2023–24 season. The Cougars officially joined the league on July 1, 2023.
- Since 2017–18, Houston has been the second-winningest program with a 185-34 record. Only Gonzaga, with a 193-23 record, stands higher. The Tigers face both teams this season.
Evans Chasing 1000 Points
- Ken Evans Jr. is leading the way for the Tigers, averaging 20.4 points per game while shooting over 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc for the Tigers. He has made 18 of the 36 three-points he has taken.
- Evans has scored double digits in seven of Jackson State’s games this season, scoring a career-high 33 points against LMU on the road.
- Evans has scored 163 points this season, and he is now just 160 points away from becoming yet another Jackson State great to score at least 1000 points in his career.
Tigers in the Paint
- Jackson State averages 29.5 points per game in the paint this season. They have scored 236 total points in the paint and 20 points or more in each game.
- The Tigers have scored a season-high 38 points in the paint in two of their eight games and outscored their opponents in four.
Last Time Out | Jackson State 75, Arkansas State 71
- Ken Evans Jr. scored 32 points to help lead Jackson State to a 75-71 road win over Arkansas State on the road.
- Evans added five rebounds and two steals to his 32-point game to lead the Tigers. Jordan O’Neal helped out with four points, seven rebounds, and five blocks, and Chase Adams chipped in with 10 points and two steals coming off the bench.
- Zeke Cook led Jackson State with eight of the team’s 44 rebounds in the game, compared to Arkansas State’s 30. The Tigers also put in work on the offensive glass, turning 15 rebounds into 12 second-chance points.
- The Jackson State defense held Arkansas State shooters to only 38.9 percent from the field.
- After falling behind 36-26, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run with 2:09 left in the first half, culminating in a bucket from Cook, to narrow their deficit to 36-33. Jackson State’s deficit remained unchanged as they entered halftime trailing 38-35.
- Arkansas State kept widening its lead after intermission, constructing a 56-50 advantage before Jackson State went on an 8-0 run to seize a 58-56 lead with 9:14 to go in the contest. The Tigers kept expanding the margin and coasted the rest of the way for the 75-71 win. Jackson State got a boost from its bench in the period, as non-starters accounted for 15 of its 40 total points.
Big from the Bench
- Coach Mo is looking for a big thing from the bench this year. He added some key players who he is expecting to give key minutes and play well when their time is called.
- Some of those players include Treyon Johnson, Keiveon Hunt, and Jalani Bell.
- The Tigers have scored 167 points off the bench to average 20.8 points per game from bench players. Jackson State scored 22 points off the bench in their last game against Arkansas State.
- Jackson State opened the season by playing three games in five days at Memphis, San Diego, and Cal Baptist.
- The Tigers will face ten teams that made the NCAA tournament a year ago, including a team in Houston that made it to the Sweet 16 last year and Gonzaga, who made it to the Elite Eight.
- They will travel on the road as they face all ten teams except Texas Southern, whom they will also play at home.
- Jackson State will also face two teams currently ranked in the top 25: #3/2 Houston and #7/8 Gonzaga.
Evans Jr. Earns Weekly Honors
- The Southwestern Athletic Conference named Jackson State’s Ken Evans Jr. its SWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his impressive performances against Arkansas State.
- Evans scored 32 points in the Tigers’ win over Arkansas State this past week of competition. He also added five rebounds, two assists, and two steals during Jackson State’s victory.
Tigers to Play in HBCU Challenge
- The Chris Paul Family Foundation and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced the third annual circuit of two Historically Black College and University (HBCU) events, the HBCU Tip-Off and Challenge, presented by the AEA Foundation.
- The HBCU Tip-Off will take place November 18-19 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, and the HBCU Challenge will be held December 16-17 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
- Jackson State will face Howard and North Carolina A&T in Las Vegas, with both games being broadcast on ESPNU.
- Coach Mo is in his third year as head coach and second at Jackson State, his hometown. Born in Jackson, Miss.
- Williams attended Murrah High School, where he had a successful career, earning him a scholarship to Alabama.
- In his first year at Jackson State, he went 12-6 in SWAC play despite being picked to finish seventh.
- Coach Williams has never faced Houston as a player or head coach.
Season tickets are now on sale to the public for the 2023–24 men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gojsutigers.com/tickets, by phone at 601-979-0845, or in person at the Williams Athletics and Assembly Center Box Office on the JSU campus Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.