LAKELAND, FL - Slinky Jones had his best offensive performance of the season, and Florida Southern College men's basketball recorded its best shooting percentage in nearly five years in a 101-71 dismantling of Florida Tech on Saturday night at Jenkins Field House. The Moccasins (16-9, 10-7 SSC) picked up their fourth-straight Sunshine State Conference victory and secured a berth in next month's SSC tournament while completing the season sweep of the Panthers (11-13, 6-10).
The victory, combined with losses by Eckerd and Rollins, pushed the Mocs into a three-way tie for fourth place in the SSC standings and kept Florida Southern in the running for an SSC regular-season championship. The Moccasins raced out to a 50-20 halftime lead and rolled to an easy victory thanks to a 35-of-55 shooting performance (65.5 percent).
HOW IT HAPPENED
• Florida Southern set the tone early by racing out to an 8-0 lead and never trailed in the contest. Jones nailed a pair of free throws at the 13:46 mark of the first half to give the Mocs their first double-digit lead (15-5), and the rout was on. A three-pointer by Jones just six minutes later gave the Moccasins a 20-point lead (35-13), and Florida Southern finished the half with a flurry to take a 50-20 lead into the locker room.
• The Mocs shot a blistering 69.2 percent (18-of-26) through the first 20 minutes of action as Jones scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. FSC held Florida Tech to just 23.5 percent (8-of-34) in the first 20 minutes, including a measly 1-of-15 from long range.
• In the second half, the Panthers were able to cut Florida Southern's lead to 16 points (69-53) with just under nine minutes to play, but unlike Wednesday's heart-stopping win at Rollins, the Mocs never let up and outscored Florida Tech 32-18 the rest of the way to continue their winning ways.
• Jones scored his 24 points on a 9-of-12 shooting performance. He also led the team with 10 rebounds, tallied two steals, and dished out an assist. Brett Hanson scored 21 points and had two blocks, while Jonathan Lawton poured in 17 points. Tyler Ross added nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.
• Florida Southern shot 65.5 percent (36-of-55) from the floor, including 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from long range, while holding the Panthers to just 32.4 percent (24-of-74) on the night. The Panthers hit just 9-of-39 shots from beyond the arc, and the Moccasins held the top scoring duo in the SSC (Sam Daniel and Jordan Majors) to nearly five points less than their average entering the game. The Mocs finished with a 44-40 edge in rebounds and dished out 21 assists.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
• Florida Southern improved to 66-24 all-time against the Panthers, including 35-10 when facing Florida Tech at home. The victory was the Mocs' fourth-straight against the Panthers. The 101 points marked the eighth time this season that the Moccasins have hit the century mark, the most since FSC scored 100 or more points in nine games during the 1987-88 season.
• The Moccasins' 65.5 percent performance from the floor was the team's best shooting performance since also connecting on 65.5 percent in a 106-90 victory against Tuskegee on Dec. 22, 2013. The 58.8 percent from beyond the arc is the team's best three-point percentage since at least the 2008-09 season (research is ongoing).
• Jones hit the 20-point mark for the second time this season. Three of his top four scoring outputs have come in the last four games, including a 20-point output against Eckerd on Jan. 31. Hanson eclipsed 20 points for the 14th time this season, including eight times in the last nine games. Lawton scored in double figures for the 24th time this season.
• The Mocs outscored the Panthers 46-26 in the paint, 29-21 off turnovers, and 20-6 on the fast break. The Florida Southern bench outscored the FIT bench by a 28-15 margin. Florida Southern's 16 wins this season mark a five-game turnaround from last year when the Mocs won just 11 games.
• Florida Southern heads to Lynn on Wednesday in a battle of two teams that are in a three-way tie for fourth in the SSC (Rollins). The Mocs are off on Feb. 17 and close out the season with a home game against Tampa (Feb. 21) and a road contest at Embry-Riddle (Feb. 24).