The men’s basketball team made light work of Lincoln University Saturday as it won 83-47 in the team’s first exhibition game of the 2012 season.
Junior guard Desmar Jackson scored 18 points to lead the team in his first Saluki outing. The 6-foot-7-inch transfer from Wyoming also managed to grab nine rebounds.
“It felt real good out there. Coach came up with a lot of screens and down screens for me to get some good looks,” he said. “Coach told me to attack, and that was good for me because I like playing aggressive.”
Jackson said this year’s team feels completely different from past ones.
“We play more team basketball,” he said. “(I already) feel that we have more of a connection, more chemistry than last year.”
Senior guards Kendal Brown-Surles and T.J. Lindsay were the game’s second and third leading scorers respectively. Brown-Surles shot three of six from a 3-point range and finished the night with 15 points, four assists and four steals. Lindsay shot 50 percent from the field as he made five of ten shots and finished with 12 points and four steals.
Fellow senior guard Jeff Early also had a productive night as he scored eight points, six rebounds and two steals. Early said he wanted to give the younger players more opportunities to gain confidence during the game.
“I think I had a decent night. I just saw this as a chance to get the young guys some shots,” he said. “They really looked good out there tonight, and I think they are going to be a good fit for the team.”
The Salukis shot 46 percent from the field, which is 4 percentage points better than last year’s field shots. Early said Coach Barry Hinson has already helped increase the team’s shooting ability.
“He has had us on a shooting machine, and he also has us shoot shots that we would see in game situations,” he said. “He has really been stressing that we need to be a better shooting team.”
The upperclassmen guards carried the load to score 53 of the team’s points combined and account for six of the 10 total assists. However, the freshmen guard trio of Jalen Pendleton, Colby Long and Anthony Beane Jr. combined for 19 points in limited playing time.
Beane Jr. went three of four from the foul line but made just two of his 10 shots from the field. Pendleton grabbed four offensive rebounds and scored nine points in his 24 minutes on the court — the most playing time out of the freshmen and fifth most on the team. Long, the team’s sole walk-on, scored three points and also dished out an assist Saturday night.
“I was nervous out there, but I calmed down after a couple minutes,” Pendleton said. “The pace of the game was fast at first. Coach always had told us (freshmen) that we were going to play. He told us to just go out there and play like we know how and not to feel any pressure.”
Pendleton said the crowd gave the Salukis the motivational boost they needed.
“We love the crowd. They’re like another player for us,” he said. “We need them out there in those seats to pump us up.”
The Salukis will face Upper Iowa at home Saturday for their second and last exhibition game before competitive play.