The first go-around, the Golden Eagles beat seven out of eight teams in the conference. Now they will start the second half of their conference schedule against seventh place USAO.
Coming off a road trip that produced the team’s first conference loss, the Eagles come home hoping to both continue their success in conference play and recover from their 84-70 loss at Wayland.
“Going in with a sense of urgency and a good frame of mind will help us with that,” said Head Coach Clark Sheehy. “Each game is the most important game of the year because it’s the one right in front of you.”
In their loss, the Eagles got off to a less-than-stellar start, quickly falling behind 22-5 while the Pioneers rained down threes. WBU shot 63 percent from three point range.
“Defensively we’ve got to be better when teams get in a rhythm like that [to] do some things to get them out of it … and not let them be in a good flow,” Sheehy said. “Defensively we weren’t where we needed to be.”
Wayland senior guard Reggie Fondren had a monster game, scoring a season-high 30 points and going 7-7 on three-pointers en-route to SAC Player of the Week honors.
“He hit a couple of shots early,” Sheehy said. “If you let good players get in a rhythm, then they can make really big plays.”
Despite the rough start and the final result, the Eagles did manage to pull the game within five points late in the second half before another Wayland Baptist run put the game away for good.
“We showed a lot of guts to get back in it,” Sheehy said. “You’ve got to give them credit, they make a lot of plays.”
John Brown fell from fourth to sixth in the national coaches’ poll this week after the loss. The Wayland game was the second game of the Eagles’ Texas road trip. The Eagles barely escaped with a win in the first game of the trip, slipping by Lubbock Christian 72-71.
Next up for John Brown is USAO. The Eagles beat the Drovers 68-58 on Jan. 8 when John Brown was unranked and USAO was ranked ninth. The Drovers have gone 3-3 since that game. The Drovers are led by senior guard Norris Rumph, who is averaging 15 points per game, and senior center Brandon Cutler, who is averaging 14 points per game. The Eagles will have to deal with another threat from downtown in Rumph, who ranks first in the NAIA in three-point field goal percentage (.505).
After USAO the Eagles will host last place St. Gregory’s on Saturday. John Brown beat SGU 63-61 on Jan. 10. St. Gregory’s is 0-7 in conference as of press time.
JBU will then hit the road again, visiting rival Rogers State in a rare Monday game on Feb. 4. John Brown last played the Hillcats in a thrilling 81-80 win on Jan. 12. Rogers State is 4-4 in conference and is three games back of JBU as of press time.
The Eagles will play next vs. USAO at 8 p.m. on Thursday.