Slow start haunts men’s basketball in narrow defeat at City

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- A difficult start buried the John Brown University men's basketball team early and, despite a double-digit comeback, proved too much to overcome in a 76-72 setback at No. 18 Oklahoma City on Thursday (Feb. 9) night inside Abe Lemons Arena.

City (17-6, 8-5 Sooner Athletic) used a pair of bigs in Xavier Smith and Tyler Alderman, 22 and 17 points, respectively, to out-score JBU 36-28 in the paint, despite John Brown's 12 offensive boards that were converted into 15 second-chance points.

The visitors didn't score its first field goal until 4:09 of the half as the City lead grew to 11, 16-5, just under seven minutes into the contest. The Golden Eagles (14-10, 6-7) hit just 34.8 percent of its attempts from the field in the first half as OCU hung onto a double-digit advantage.

Senior Matthew Ledford's triple from the deep corner, followed by a pair of Jake Caudle free throws, trimmed the lead to five, 24-19, until another Ledford trey with 3:18 left in the half brought the margin to one possession, 31-28.

Caudle's lone bucket of the first half with a minute left kept the deficit to three entering the second half.

In fact, the Golden Eagles erased the entirety of the 14-point deficit at the 13:33 mark of the second half, courtesy of a Caudle jumper and a Roberts layup, which knotted the score at 44 apiece. However, coming of out the game's only tie, City responded with a 17-7 run to take a commanding 61-51 lead with 9:06 left in the contest.

With under three minutes left to play, City suffered through three-straight empty possessions while JBU used a Marquis Waller layup, a triple from sophomore Josh Bowling and a Caudle layup to pull within two, 69-67.

On the ensuing trip down the court, City's Lou Dunbar hit a timely triple to effectively place the game out of reach for the Golden Eagles.

Sophomore Brandon Joseph hit a triple with 11 seconds left, cutting the lead again to two, but OCU converted both charity stripe attempts to close out the victory, its fourth in five games.

Joseph paced JBU with 16 points, while Caudle chipped in with 12 points and four assists. Waller and freshman Brenton Toussaint each added nine as JBU out-boarded the hosts, 37-35.

John Brown, which has alternated wins and losses in its last four, return to action on Saturday (Feb. 9) at 5 p.m. and welcome the defending national champions, Mid-America Christian (Okla.) in a matinee matchup. JBU won the first matchup of the season in Oklahoma City, 83-78.

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