COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Columbus State University men’s basketball team breezed to a 92-76 victory over Middle Georgia State Wednesday night in CSU’s season opener. The game took place inside the Lumpkin Center.
With the win, seventh-year head coach Robert Moore hit the 100-career win mark. He is just the third Cougar coach to accomplish the feat.
“I thought we played well in spurts tonight,” said Moore. “We have to continue to work towards consistency on both ends of the floor. I was really pleased in how we took care of the ball and forced Middle Georgia into bad decisions.”
Columbus State (1-0) was led by JaCori Payne who tied a career-high in points with 23 after going 9-for-15 from the field. The junior was 2-for-4 from three while racking up four assists, four rebounds and four steals. Rudy Winters also poured in 20 points with Darius Joell chipping in 18. Marcus Dixon had a career-high 11 rebounds with eight points to go along with four assists.
Middle Georgia hit the opening shot of the game to take its only lead of the contest, but the Cougars quickly took control. Five straight points by Payne jumpstarted a 14-2 run for the Cougars as CSU never looked back.
In a 20-12 game, Columbus State extended its lead to 11 with 12:33 to play in the first thanks to back-to-back threes from Vic Ellis and Jamal McKee.
The Knights made a little run towards the end of the half cutting the margin down to six (30-24) with just over six until the break. However, a layup from Dixon in the paint began a 7-0 run that saw the lead go back into double figures at 37-24. The lead would remain above 11 for the remainder of the half as CSU took a 42-30 lead into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, Middle Georgia was able to get back into striking distance after a jumper by Kieston Standfield that cut the score to 44-36 with just two minutes off the clock.
Columbus State would then put the game away for good, thanks to a 7-0 run fueled by Winters that saw CSU’s lead expand to 51-36. Winters scored six of the seven points in the spurt including two tough buckets in traffic in the paint.
Middle Georgia kept the score respectable, but was never able to cut the deficit to single digits. CSU took its largest lead of the game at the 3:41 mark after Arben Camaj grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to give the Cougars a 16-point lead (80-62).
As a team, Columbus State shot 53.8 percent (35-for-65) while hitting just five of its 19 three-point attempts. The Cougars were 17-for-27 (63 percent) from the free throw line. Middle Georgia shot 42.6 percent (29-for-68) overall and 16.7 percent (3-for-18) from three.
Columbus State will be back in action Friday taking part in the PBC-SIAC Challenge in Montevallo, Ala. The Cougars will take on Miles at 6 p.m. in TrustMark Arena. The game can be heard live on NewsRadio 540 WDAK.