Back in MEAC, Coppin rolls, 68-41

Eagles have no trouble with winless N.C. A&T

January 05, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Coppin State and North Carolina A&T got a reprieve from their unforgiving pre-league schedules last night on the day Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play opened in earnest.

Somebody had to flinch, and Coppin's swarming defense made certain it was the Aggies.

After meeting a steady diet of nationally known powers that included Marquette, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Illinois on the road, the Eagles served notice that their preseason prediction of 10th in the MEAC may have been far too pessimistic.

Coppin never trailed, Jimmy Boykin provided the firepower with a career-high 32 points and winless North Carolina A&T fell, 68-41, at the Coppin Center.

So dominant were the Eagles that the team's overall leading scorer, Larry Tucker, never returned to the floor after leaving because of his fourth personal foul with 12:41 left in the game.

"They don't believe they're a 10th-place team. For whatever reason, they're playing to win," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell, who has rebuilt his foundation with his staple, defense. The Eagles have not allowed more than 69 points in any game despite their powerful schedule.

The Aggies (0-7, 0-1) entered the night off consecutive losses to Atlantic Coast Conference heavyweights N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest, so a return to the MEAC might have served as a booster to them as well.

Instead, they were sluggish and inefficient, committing 21 turnovers, losing the rebound battle 29-21 to a smaller team and never challenging after Coppin (2-9, 2-0) reeled off 16 straight points to close the first half with a 35-14 advantage.

"It was just a poor exhibition on our team's part," said Aggies coach Curtis Hunter. "I am truly embarrassed by the way we went through the motions. Fang does a good job of preparing his players. They play hard and are a prime example that size is overrated."

North Carolina A&T never adjusted its defense to Boykin's slashing cuts to the basket for layups and often couldn't find the Eagles' long-range shooters, either.

"In our last home game [a 68-45 loss to George Mason], we didn't perform very good," Boykin said. "We have to defend our house. Our main goal was stopping them from scoring. We weren't really thinking about the offense."

Tucker finished with 12 points in only 24 minutes as the Eagles shot 62.5 percent in the first half and 56 percent overall.

"We know playing against the better teams we have no shot if we don't play defense," Mitchell said. "Scoring enough points has been our Achilles' heel. Tonight, we executed on both ends."

NORTH CAROLINA A&T--Koger 7-18 1-3 19, Green 2-3 0-0 4, Beckwith 1-2 0-0 2, Hayes 0-3 0-0 0, Traore 0-1 0-0 0, Holmes 2-5 0-0 5, Hollis 0-0 0-0 0, Kirkpatrick 2-5 0-0 6, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Ferguson 1-2 0-0 2, Hefner 0-0 0-0 0, Woodhouser 1-2 0-0 2, Green C. 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 16-41 2-5 41. COPPIN STATE--Thompson 4-6 0-0 9, Bradley 2-3 0-0 5, Tucker 5-10 2-4 12, Boykin 12-20 3-3 32, Scott 1-4 0-0 2, Shortt 0-0 0-0 0, Muhammad 2-2 0-1 4, Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Mott 0-0 0-0 0, Colter 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 28-50 5-8 68. Halftime--Coppin, 35-14. 3-point goals--NC A&T 7-20 (Koger 4-9, Green 0-1, Beckwith 0-1, Hayes 0-2, Holmes 1-3, Kirkpatrick 2-4), Coppin 7-13 (Thompson 1-2, Bradley 1-1, Boykin 5-10). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--NC A&T 21 (Ferguson 6), Coppin 29 (Boykin 7). Assists--NC A&T 6 (Koger 2, Holmes 2), Coppin 14 (Thompson 9). Total fouls--NC A&T 11, Coppin 10. A--914.

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