SIUE made its lone preseason men’s basketball game a successful one Friday as the Cougars defeated Kentucky State, 80-61, at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars led from start to finish and had four players score in double figures against Division II Kentucky State, a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“The guys worked together on both sides on the floor and we did some really good things,” fourth-year SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. “This team has great depth and great balance and I liked the way we shared the ball.”
Jackson, a 6-foot, 7-inch junior forward from East St. Louis, Ill., scored a team-best 17 points. Williford, a 5-10 junior guard from Chicago, contributed 16 points. Uzuegbunem, a 6-7 junior from Oklahoma City, Okla., collected 11 points and 10 rebounds. And Williams, a 6-2 freshman from St. Louis, tallied 16 points including 13 in the second half.
SIUE started four juniors and a freshman.
“We have good leadership and Brandon and Tyresse really did some good things,” Harris said. “Anselm is a load and Cameron settled down and came into his own during the second half.”
Jackson, who snared six rebounds, noted: “We definitely have good chemistry on this team and we are working toward our goal.”
Williford, a JUCO transfer, pointed out: “I felt comfortable and it was definitely a lot of fun. I want to be good leader on a good team.”
Guard Christian Ellis added seven assists and five rebounds for the Cougars, who broke the game open midway through the first half.
SIUE used a 13-0 spurt midway through the first half to shoot ahead 31-18 and widen its lead to 40-25 at half. Williford scored 13 first-half points and Jackson chipped in with 12 more.
The Cougars open their season at home Tuesday when they welcome the University of Pacific (Stockton, Calif.) in a 7 p.m. game at the Vadalabene Center.
Kevin Hayes scored 19 points to pace Kentucky State, which opens its season Nov. 10 at Kentucky Wesleyan.