It wasn't enough that Morgan State went into last night's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game 0-for-the-season, but new coach Michael Holmes also was facing his old team, Florida A&M.
The pressures might have been predictable, but not the outcome. Morgan State (1-14, 1-4) jumped to a 15-4 lead in less than five minutes and made free throws at the end to upset Florida A&M (5-7, 3-2), 75-67, before 400 at Hill Field House.
The triumph, which the Bears achieved with better shooting and domination of the backboards, was their first since a decision over Howard in the last regular-season game last season.
"We had worked hard in practice, and I think we were ready," Morgan State senior Ural Hogans said. "We felt the pressure for Coach [Holmes]. It was really tense."
The early burst took care of that. The lead, 36-25 at the half, dipped to 45-40 with 12 minutes, 36 seconds left, but Morgan steadied and built the lead back to 62-50 with six minutes to go.
Hogans, a 6-foot-1 guard averaging 8.1 points, made three layups in the early nine-point spree and finished with 25 points. Jason Rhodes, another senior guard, hit three three-point shots and made key free throws in the closing minutes to help protect the lead.
"I was surprised with the score, but not with the scheme," Holmes said. It was a plan that saw Morgan combine defensive rebounds and steals with long outlet passes to set up easy baskets.
"You want them to enjoy the win, but you want them to remember there is still a lot of work to do. We need to be more consistent. You work with them, teach them how to do things, and the wins will take care of themselves."
The Rattlers were without Kelvin Daniels, their leading scorer (18.4) and rebounder (6.4), because of a disciplinary decision by coach Willie Booker.
NOTES: Before the game on the Hillen Road campus, the Rev. Keith Bennett from the school's Christian Center led a brief prayer for the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. . . . Senior Jason McCoy, a starting guard before he was hurt, is expected to be sidelined another week to 10 days with a knee injury.