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James Madison opened the first half with a 21-5 advantage and added a 20-4 start to the second half to coast past East Tennessee State 70-45 in a non-conference men's basketball game on Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU won its second straight to improve to 3-5 while ETSU fell to 2-4. The game played out similar to last year's Jan. 30 matchup in Johnson City, Tenn., when the shorthanded Dukes fell behind 20-5 early, and the Buccaneers forced 23 turnovers in a 70-55 win. This time, JMU jumped out to the 21-5 advantage and forced 18 turnovers with ETSU missing several key players, including starting point guard Petey McClain.
The Dukes applied pressure early and often to force the 18 ETSU turnovers, nine in each half, on a season-high 15 steals, leading to a 25-3 advantage in points off turnovers. JMU also scored 14 fast-break points compared to none for ETSU.
In a balanced team effort, senior guard A.J. Davis achieved team-high honors with 17 points for the Dukes. Freshman guard Andre Nation posted 11 points, five rebounds, five steals, three blocks and two assists.
Senior forward Rayshawn Goins and sophomore forward Enoch Hood each collected nine points and five boards. Senior guard Devon Moore had an efficient night with seven points, a season-high six assists, four steals and three rebounds in 25 minutes. Senior forward Andrey Semenov added six points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Lester Wilson, the nation's leading scorer among freshmen (19.4/game), led ETSU with 21 points and seven rebounds, though 16 of his points came after the Buccaneers reached a 30-point deficit. Guard Rashawn Rembert added 12 points.
JMU's lead never dipped below double figures after the first seven minutes of the game and never went below 20 points after the first three minutes of the second half. The Dukes built the lead to a high of 32 points at 56-24 with 10:23 to go in the ball game.
In orchestrating its large runs to open each half, Madison allowed just five points in the first nine minutes of the game as well as four points in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
The Dukes shot 44 percent for the game despite going 8-for-27 (30 percent) from the arc. The Buccaneers were limited to 28.8 percent shooting, the lowest JMU opponent mark since 27.6 percent vs. Towson last February. The Dukes also led the Bucs in rebounding 43-32 for their first double-digit advantage since Jan. 26 last year against William and Mary.
JMU took command from the opening tip, pulling away from a 3-2 score with an 11-0 run while holding ETSU scoreless for five minutes. The Dukes continued to push the margin to a 16-point lead at 21-5 at the 11:30 mark of the half. JMU trailed in the early minutes of last year's matchup in Johnson City by a 20-5 margin before losing 70-55.
The Buccaneers scored the next five points and cut the deficit as low as 10 points, but the Dukes turned up the pressure to end the half. Nation blocked a 3-pointer with five seconds left and drove for a layup at the buzzer to tie JMU's largest lead with a 36-20 advantage at the break.
After hitting a pair of threes in the first three minutes, the Dukes went just 2-for-11 (18 percent) from long range in the half, but were 12-for-19 (63 percent) on other attempts and forced 11 turnovers for a margin of 18-0 on points off turnovers in the half. ETSU shot 28 percent for the half.
JMU will be home for its fourth straight contest at the Convocation Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday when the Dukes host Richmond. It will be the first game against the Spiders since they left the Colonial Athletic Association following the 2000-2001 season.