KENNESAW, Ga. -- Senior forward Aaron Anderson (Tucson, Ariz. / Central Arizona College) scored 12 points and collected 13 rebounds to lead Kennesaw State to a 75-68 victory over visiting Jacksonville in an Atlantic Sun Conference game Saturday afternoon at the KSU Convocation Center.
Anderson, who posted his ninth double-double of the season and sixth straight double-digit rebounding game, was part of a group of four players that finished in double figures for the Owls (3-21, 2-10). Senior forward Markeith Cummings (Birmingham, Ala. / Beach HS) scored a game-high 18 points, while sophomore guard Delbert Love (Cleveland, Ohio / St. Edward HS)) chipped in 11 points and freshman forward Nigel Pruitt (Potomac, Md. / Bullis School) equaled a career-high with 10 points.
Kennesaw State rallied from a 38-33 halftime deficit and outscored Jacksonville 42-30 in the second half to avenge a 99-92 triple-overtime loss to the Dolphins (12-14, 7-6) on Jan. 10 in Jacksonville.
The Dolphins were led junior guard Keith McDougald who scored 15 points, while junior forward Dylan Fritsch contributed 14 points and senior forward Glenn Powell added 12 points and seven rebounds.
"For the second straight game I really want to thank our crowd for coming out," head coach Lewis Preston said. "I really thought our crowd was really in to it. I thought it was a great atmosphere for a Saturday afternoon game."
Utilizing the energy from the home crowd to its advantage, Kennesaw State came out and played with the aggressiveness that Preston has been seeking from his team on a consistent basis. The Owls outrebounded the Dolphins, 40-31, outscored Jacksonville 36-31 in the paint, and outshot the visitors, 45.8 percent to 43.9 percent.
Kennesaw State also converted 16 of 20 free throw attempts, a marked improvement from when the Owls made just 18 of 27 when the two teams met earlier this season.
"The two stats I can go back to, that was the difference in the game, was our beating them by five in points in the paint, considering I think Glenn Powell is the most physical inside presence in the entire A-Sun," Preston said. "It says a lot; believe me, less than 48 hours ago I was not very complimentary to our big men. I thought our big men came out today and played well."
One of those big men was Anderson who was a force on the boards at both ends of the floor and had seven offensive rebounds among his 13. Junior forward Andrew Osemhen also provided aggressive play near the basket, scoring eight points and collecting five rebounds in 18 minutes.
"Aaron Anderson, one again, a double-double," Preston said. "I'm happy for Andrew Osemhen. I called him out in practice yesterday. I thought he did a great job coming out today and playing more aggressively."
It also was a collective breakout game for the four Owl freshmen who have been played significant minutes this season. In addition to Pruitt's 10 points, Kennesaw State also received solid performances from rookies Myles Hamilton (Cleveland, Ohio / St. Edward HS), Yonel Brown (Lawrenceville, Ga. / Berkmar HS) and Jordan Montgomery (Orlando, Fla. / Orlando Christian Prep).
Hamilton scored nine points, collected five rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 32 minutes, while Brown had two rebounds and two key assists, and Montgomery provided three points in eight minutes.
"I'm just getting a lot of confidence since the beginning. At first I didn't know my role but now I do," Pruitt said. "I was trying to find little cracks in the defense when they weren't paying attention. I know they're keying on Aaron all game with rebounds, so I just figured I'd help out Aaron and get some put backs in and help the team win."
The second half produced seven lead changes and Kennesaw State claimed the advantage for good when Cummings hit a three-pointer with 4:26 remaining that gave the Owls a 62-59. Anderson capped a 7-0 run with a tip-in with 3:21 remaining that increased the lead to 68-61.
"So far we haven't been on the right side of the win column too many times this year and we just kept fighting," Anderson said. "We had a lot of leadership on the floor tonight between me, Delbert (Love) and Markeith, and the freshmen stepped up. We had four guys in double figures, so even scoring across the board and it worked out well for us."
Kennesaw State will look for back-to-back wins for the first time this season when it travels to Johnson City, Tenn., to take on East Tennessee State on Thursday beginning at 7 p.m.
Kennesaw State University