DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Central University men’s basketball team kept up with rival North Carolina A&T for about two-thirds of the game before turnovers and foul trouble did them in. They fell to the Aggies, 79-63.
“I thought we prepared for everything that they were going to do,” said N.C. Central head coach LeVelle Moton. “Most of our turnovers were unforced turnovers, just throwing the ball across the floor, the ball slipping through our hands, and that’s not A&T. That’s North Carolina Central, right, and so that is the main problem.”
The Aggies used six turnovers in the first half to take a double-digit lead. N.C. Central’s C.J. Keyser scored 7 of his 11 points during an 11-1 run to give the Eagles a short-lived 1-point advantage before North Carolina A&T pushed it back to a 3-point advantage at the break.
In the second half, a fastbreak layup by Jordan Perkins once again put the Eagles in front, but it was once again short-lived.
All told, the Aggies forced 14 turnovers and turned them into 20 points, steadily pulling away from an Eagles team that looked a beat off the entire night.
“Forget a championship-caliber team. We are just not a good basketball team. You know that’s what the tape says, that’s what the stats say, and that’s what the score said,” Moton said after the game. “When you circumvent the process the way we have, I told my staff just be patient. I’m not highly upset, honestly, because I know we got to use games as practice.
“It’s the ultimate reality so we are in that mode right now. We haven’t been able to establish no kind of rhythm or identity for ourselves, so I got to do a better job of, you know, getting these guys ready and it’s going to take a little more time before we turn the corner hopefully.”
It’s tough to make a stand when you don’t have all your players available. And for the better part of the game, N.C. Central was without C.J. Keyser. He picked up three fouls in the first half and was whistled for his fourth minutes into the second half. He was reduced to watching from the sidelines he ended up logging just 23 minutes the entire game.
“The reality is when you play big games, your best player has to play really well in order for you to have a chance and we didn’t get his best shot tonight. And he’ll go back and hopefully he’ll respond to what’s going on,” Moton said. “The foul trouble, that was nobody to blame but CJ. You know we hold everyone accountable, so I don’t want to talk by it or around it. We expect better from CJ and that’s the truth of the matter. And if he’s going to help us, he has to help us on the floor at all times.”
The Eagles won’t have to wait long before they get a shot at redemption. They face the Aggies again on Saturday at the Corbett Center in Greensboro. Hopefully the guys can find that spark, that drive, that desire to come out like the team that won the regular-season MEAC championship last year instead of what we saw tonight.
“I’m just all talked out, right? I am all talked out, you know? During this quarantine, you multiply my talking times 10 and that’s all they have heard me do and it’s time to stop talking,” Moton said. “It’s basketball. It’s 5-on-5 at a time, defending, executing. and rebounding. And it’s going to have to be placed at the highest level. There’s nothing I can do to bail them out right now and I just told him I can talk all day, but that isn’t going to win basketball games.
“We got a hold everyone accountable — myself on the coaching staff — and we have to go back and put these guys in a position to be successful. And we haven’t done a good job of doing that.”