At the FAMU basketball weekly press luncheon, men’s coach Mike Gillespie joked that the highlights of his team’s non-conference schedule consisted of the top-flight restaurants visited by the Rattlers during its 11-game road trip, the longest in the NCAA.
The fine dining continued last weekend as the Rattlers traveled to Howard. The Bison handed FAMU another road loss, forcing the Rattlers into 33 turnovers and prevailing 82-76. The loss left FAMU 2-3 in the conference.
A split at home last week left FAMU 2-2 in the conference and feeling a bit rejuvenated after a grueling 1-10 start to the season.
On Jan. 5, in its first home game of the season, FAMU found itself in a familiar position. Down 16 points in the second half to North Carolina A&T, FAMU used its full-court pressure to take the Aggies out of its offense. A three-pointer by Demarcus Wilkins finally put the Rattlers ahead 58-55 at the 3:24 mark of the second half, and FAMU never trailed again.
Fortunes changed just two days later against South Carolina State, as FAMU fell 72-69, in front of a boisterous Gaither Gym crowd of 1,720.
Again digging a deep hole for themselves, FAMU trailed 45-28 at halftime. The Rattlers shot just 35 percent (9 of 26) from the field in the first half. After the game, Gillespie said that his big men worked hard to establish positions inside, but were often overlooked by his guards.
“Guys need to do a better job of getting [the center] Jermaine Hill the ball,” Gillespie said. “He took only four shots. Our coaches counted only three post touches by our big men in the first half.”
The Rattlers came back from 17 points down in the second half to tie the game at 52 with 13:25 left in the game.
While leading scorers Wilkins and Michael Griffith struggled from the field with a combined eight of 27 shooting night, guard Jason Miles hit consecutive three pointers and a free throw during a 45-second stretch to take the Rattlers to a 56-52 lead midway through the second half.
Fueled by the strong interior defensive play of Hill and Tudeme, the Rattlers forced South Carolina State to just 31 percent shooting in the second half. FAMU held the lead until the 7:07 mark when South Carolina State jumped back on top 65-63, and never looked back.
“I thought we made a great run, but the law of averages catches up,’ Gillespie said.
This week, the team will be at Delaware State Monday, andface Morgan State at home Saturday.