By Dave Wagner
Shawn Scanlan liked the way his two starting big men played Thursday night.
Jamaal Hunnicutt recorded a triple-double and Travazz Buckley added a double-double as the Greyhounds beat Abilene Christian 87-61 in Lone Star Conference South Division men’s basketball at Greyhound Arena.
Hunnicutt, who came up one assist short of a triple-double as a freshman two years ago in a game at Angelo State, compiled 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Buckley added team highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds as the Hounds (12-6, 2-1 South) opened a key three-game homestand with a convincing win.
The Hounds erupted for a 32-9 lead 12 minutes into the game and ended any hopes of a rally with a strong finish.
“It’s the first step; we truly played as a team tonight,” said Hunnicutt, a junior from Amarillo. “We know we can beat anybody in the country if we just play defense.”
ENMU did that especially well early, holding the Wildcats (10-8, 1-2) to just 2-for-14 shooting over the first 10 minutes. Edmound Elzy’s 3-pointer capped a 14-0 run that opened a 25-5 lead at the midway point of the half.
The Hounds came in having lost three of their last four, although all were close games against quality teams.
“I thought we played good as a team,” said Buckley, who had a season-high in rebounds. “Coach (Shawn Scanlan) had said the last few games we hadn’t done that.
“They’re (Wildcats) a good team. We came out strong with our defense because we knew they were a jump-shooting team.”
ACU cut a 17-point halftime deficit to nine twice early in the second half behind the 3-point shooting of guard David Baxter, but Eastern’s patient offense restored order.
The Hounds outscored the Wildcats 18-6 over the final seven minutes to win going away.
“It was a good game for us,” Scanlan said. “Our defense early in the game allowed our offense to get untracked, and allowed us to score baskets in transition.
“Those two guys (Hunnicutt and Buckley) did what they’re capable of tonight. That’s the kind of game we can expect every night — not necessarily a triple-double, but to be able to attack the basket effectively.”
Hunnicutt said it may have been his best overall game “because I did all the little things tonight.”
“In conference, it’s good to hold homecourt,” he said. “On the road, you never know — any team can play great against anybody.”
Garland Coleman added 13 points and Kennis Green 12 as all 11 Hounds scored. ENMU overcame an uncharacteristic 9-of-19 from the free-throw line by shooting 51 percent from the field, dominating the boards 55-34 and collecting 25 assists compared with just 11 turnovers.
ACU shot just 36 percent from the field, including 6-of-20 from 3-point range. Baxter led the Wildcats with 13 points and forward Tucker Pierson scored 11.