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SB Mavericks dominate inside, crush #2-ranked Jacksonville

Kirk Copeland
(318) 525-8853 cell
kirk@abamavericks.com

Saturday, January 31st

(Jacksonville, FL.) – The top-ranked and defending ABA champion Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks came to Jacksonville this weekend with just one mission: to knock off the league’s #2-ranked Jacksonville Giants on their home court.

After dominating performances inside by power forward Brandon Davis and center Jon Rogers, as well as great shooting and floor leadership from former Championship Finals MVPs Josh Pace and P.J. Couisnard Saturday night, the Mavs can stamp this mission “accomplished”. And then some.

In front of a packed house at Veterans Memorial Arena, in an atmosphere usually reserved for the playoffs, Shreveport-Bossier outplayed Jacksonville in every aspect, dropping last season’s runners-up 115-82 to sweep the regular-season series between the two top teams in the ABA.

The Mavericks (19-0) have now won a professional basketball record 79 straight games dating to 2011. Since moving to Shreveport-Bossier in 2013, the Mavs are an unblemished 53-0. With the victory, Mavericks head coach Steve Tucker has compiled 195 wins in the ABA, most all-time.

After a slow start (by Mavs’ standards), Shreveport-Bossier turned up the defensive intensity, holding Jacksonville (17-2) – a team that averages nearly 120 points per game – without a field goal for nearly nine minutes of game time to end the first quarter and begin the second.

“This was a big, big win,” said Tucker after his squad held the Giants to their lowest scoring output of the season. “I thought we played really well after the first quarter in all phases. We played excellent defense throughout, but our offense was a little off in the beginning of the game. Once we got some guys hitting shots, things fell into place.”

Despite the slow shooting start, Shreveport-Bossier outshot Jacksonville 58%-37%. Couisnard ignited the Mavs with eight first-quarter points, then turned on the afterburners with nine in the second en route to a 25-point performance. His outside shooting (six 3-pointers) was a perfect complement to aggressive play of Pace and the inside presence of Davis and Rogers. Pace led all scorers with 26 points and led all rebounders with 13, while Davis scored 16 and grabbed 11 boards. Rogers poured in 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting to go with nine rebounds and two blocked shots, but his defensive work led to several other altered shots by the Giants.

“Having those big guys in the middle is such a blessing to have,” said Couisnard. “It leads to a lot of fast-break chances, and draws the defense to the middle, which opens up the outside shots. This was a big game, and those guys stepped up like big players always do.”

After the Mavericks outrebounded Jacksonville 54-31 and held a 66-32 advantage in points in the paint, Tucker had more superlatives about his frontcourt stars.

“I’ve said it before, but it’s true: that tandem is the best set of big men that’s not in the NBA,” said Tucker.

Pace, who had 10 points in the first half, erupted in the third quarter for 10 more as the Mavs began to pull away. His highlight-reel “alley oop” pass to Jermaine Blackburn brought the entire Mavericks bench to their feet as Shreveport-Bossier was mopping up late in the game.

“Black and I have been playing together for a long time,” said Pace, the Mavericks’ silent assassin. “We’ve worked on that alley oop a lot, and it’s always me passing it to him because he’s the athletic one. I saw him and I just threw it up there, knowing he’d go up and get it, and sure enough, he did.”

Other notable performances from Saturday’s win included point guard Tony Hooper’s 14 points (including 11 in the fourth quarter) and five assists, and Blackburn’s eight points – all in the second half – on 4-of-5 shooting.

“It’s a big win anytime you beat a team of this caliber,” said Tucker. “Especially on the road in a hostile environment. We did what we came here to do.”

The Mavericks get back to Hirsch Memorial Coliseum next weekend, February 7-8, when they will face Providence (Rhode Island) in games Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets for 2014-15 Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks games are on sale now at www.sbmavs.com or at Hirsch Memorial Coliseum box office, which can be reached at (318) 631-4930.

Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks Basketball

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