MIAMI — About the only thing that Northeastern A&M coach Jeremy Jackson could see fault with in the season opener Monday night was play down the stretch.
Oh, the game never was in doubt with the Golden Norse breezing to a 100-59 win over the Oklahoma Wesleyan JV, but they were outscored 27-11 in the final eight-plus minutes.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t finish the game as strong as we started,” Jackson said. “My key point at halftime was win the half and don’t lose focus. We had a bunch of young guys out there and we lost focus. It happens, but I would rather it happen in a game like this than a game that went down to the wire.”
Everybody that got into the game scored points, and three —Samkelo Cele, Jadan Graves and Rudi Williams — reached double figures.
“I was very pleased with our top 10 guys,” Jackson said. “They really performed well. In the first half, we were up 37 or so. We have guys who can make a difference. We don’t just have one of them. We have several. That is really huge for us.”
Cele, whose dunk 48 seconds into the game set off a blizzard of toilet paper, finished with a game-high 19 points.
Sophomore Rudi Williams and Jadan Graves added 18 each.
Other than a 2-2 tie created by the technical foul caused by the court being blanketed in TP, the Norse were never really threatened.
It was 17-2 early in the first half and 59-25 at intermission.
NEO ballooned the lead to as many as 52 points (89-37) with just over eight minutes remaining.
The nucleus of the Norse squad are four sophomores, but at times, Jackson had five freshmen on the floor.
“We got meaningful minutes (from everyone),” Jackson said. “We have so many talented young players. We are very blessed to have that problem. It’s a good problem to have as far as playing time goes.”
NEO’s scoring also included eight points from Alvin Canady III, seven each from Melo Williams and James Franklin Jr., five from Jay freshman Garrett Sweeney, four each from Gavin Harris and George Blai-Voinescu, and Nikota Konstantynovskyi, Kalil Camara, Tyren Collins, Much Thong and Taylor Gonzales each chipped in with two points.
“We’ve just got to keep pressing forward because there’s a lot of things we could have improved on tonight,” Jackson said.
Dakota Reedy scored 14 points and Jacob Weber and Gage Jahnke each had 11 points.
The Norse played at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College Wednesday, Nov. 8.