Cooking at home, Coppin burns A&M Eagles score first 10, limit 7-1 James, 79-54

December 17, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Show time at Coppin State.

With 13 NBA scouts on press row and an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 in the stands, Antoine Brockington and Coppin State quickly ran away from 7-foot-1 Jerome James and Florida A&M, 79-54, last night in their home opener at the Coppin Center.

Brockington entertained the fans with his shifty ball-handling, long-range shooting and quick hands in contrast to the 280-pound James, who put on a powerful but slow thunder-dunking display that was rough around the edges.

Brockington led all scorers with 23 and surpassed the 1,000-point mark in his Coppin career (1,003).

Brockington also had a career-high eight steals and four assists as the Eagles (3-3) scored the first 10 points and led twice by as many as 32 points in the second half to begin their quest for a sixth straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title.

James tried to answer Brockington with an assortment of power moves, but he missed four dunk attempts and wound up 5-for-16 from the field to finish with 14 points for the Rattlers (3-5).

James, who was only 1-for-8 in the first half, also had a game-high 16 rebounds and was definitely a force on defense with eight blocks.

But nothing James and Florida A&M did last night was under pressure as Coppin State let it be known in the opening minutes it was going to dominate after playing its opening five games on the road against the likes of Arizona, Iowa State and Missouri.

The Eagles were rolling 22-4 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the first half as the Rattlers took 8: 11 to score their first field goal.

Coppin faded a little near the end of the first half and led only 39-26 at the intermission, drawing the ire of coach Fang Mitchell.

"We weren't aggressive tonight like we were on the road," said Mitchell, whose Eagles had played defending national champion Arizona to a near-draw for 30 minutes Saturday. "We took a lot of things for granted tonight and I wasn't happy about it."

Mitchell was especially critical of senior forward Kareem Lewis, who had his best game of the season offensively but didn't play at an overall level to suit the coach.

"I expect more from Kareem than he gave me tonight," said Mitchell. "He knows it and if he doesn't play better he might be up for sale."

Lewis had 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one block against the overmatched Rattlers.

Danny Singletary (14) and Fred Warrick (10) also scored in double figures for the Eagles, who will not play at home again until January.

The Coppin road warriors head back out this weekend, meeting Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday.

The Brockington and James shows that came before NBA scouts including the Chicago Bulls' Jerry Krause and the Washington Wizards' Chuck Douglas were something of a preliminary as far as the Coppin fans were concerned.

They gave thunderous ovations for Coppin's two young stick-like reserves, 7-1 Jason Iacona and 6-9 Joe Allen, who played in their first game of the season. Freshman Iacona is the first 7-footer in Coppin history and only the second white player to wear an Eagles uniform in Mitchell's 12 years at the school.

In regard to James' possible future in the NBA, Douglas said, "He has a lot of potential, but needs to play harder."

Pub Date: 12/17/97

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