DURHAM, N.C. — A late second-half run was the difference as the Florida A&M University men's basketball team dropped its 2020 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener, 61-45, to North Carolina Central on Saturday afternoon at McDougald-McLendon Arena.
Florida A&M (2-10 overall, 0-1 MEAC) and North Carolina Central entered the half tied at 28, but the Eagles held the Rattlers without a bucket for the final 8:37 of second half to earn the conference win.
Rod Melton, Jr. scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the first half to pace Florida A&M. He also added four rebounds and a pair of steals. MJ Randolph registered 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while DJ Jones tallied nine points, a career-high 13 rebounds, three blocks and one steal.
Jibri Blount led North Carolina Central (5-10, 1-0) with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, with two steals and one assist. Jordan Perkins recorded 15 points, a game-high eight assists, three steals and two boards, while Deven Palmer scored all 11 of his points in the first half and added a pair of rebounds.
How It Happened
Florida A&M raced out to a 7-2 advantage to begin the game after a 3-pointer by Rod Melton, Jr. with 14:35 remaining, but North Carolina Central rallied at tied the game at 11 after a Jibri Blount jumper with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Eagles grabbed a 24-20 advantage on a jumper by Blount, but the Rattlers answered and tied the game at 24 on a DJ Jones layup as he was fouled on the play. After the free throw, FAMU held a 25-24 lead with 1:47 to play.
North Carolina Central got a free throw by Blount, tying the game at 25 with 1:25 remaining and neither team scored on the final minute as the two teams headed into the break tied.
The Eagles led 41-35 after a pair of free throws by Blount, but back came the Rattlers as FAMU used a 7-0 run to grab a 42-41 advantage after a Melton layup with 12:17 remaining.
With the game tied at 45, North Carolina Central went on 16-0 run over a seven-minute stretch late in the second half and did not look back, sending FAMU to its first MEAC loss and ending the Rattlers' two-game win streak.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M shot 36.5 percent (19-of-52) from the floor and 42.9 percent (3-of-7) from the charity stripe
> North Carolina Central was 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) from the field and 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the foul line
> FAMU registered 37 rebounds, including 23 on the defensive glass
> NCCU pulled down 28 rebounds, with 21 coming on the defensive end
> The Rattlers finished with 26 points in the paint, 12 second-chance points, eight points off 14 NCCU turnovers, six fastbreak points and four bench points
> The Eagles recorded 38 points in the paint, 28 bench points, 24 points off 24 FAMU turnovers, 12 second-chance points and six fastbreak points
News and Notes
> North Carolina Central extended its lead in the series to 12-4 since 2011
> Florida A&M is coming off its first-ever win over a Power 5 opponent – Iowa State on Dec. 31
> Florida A&M has faced two nationally-ranked programs so far this season – #10 Seton Hall and No. 21 Tennessee
> The Rattlers are in the midst of a season-opening 13-game road swing
> FAMU's first home game comes on Jan. 11, 2020 against MEAC opponent Morgan State
> Florida A&M has travelled a total of 23,477 miles to begin the season and will add another 53 miles when it makes the trip to Greensboro, N.C. on Monday
Florida A&M closes out its 13-game, season-opening, road trip on Monday against North Carolina A&T State. Tip-off against the Aggies is set for 7:30 p.m. from the Corbett Sports Center.