VMI rolls Milligan College, 122-73

The VMI Keydets shot a blistering 64.4 percent from the field, led by Michael Sparks’ 19 points, and defeated the Milligan College Buffaloes 122-73 in basketball action Saturday afternoon at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.

After four ties and five lead changes in the first several minutes, the Keydets (5-5) used a pair of runs, 13-3 and 13-4, to push their lead to 16 with 8:20 left in the first half. Milligan (4-6) climbed back within 11 moments later, but VMI went on an 11-3 run to take a 19-point advantage, and was not threatened the rest of the way.

The Keydets shot 38 of 59 from the floor, including 18 of 24 (75 percent) in the first half, and posted 22 assists on their 38 baskets. Five Keydets scored in double figures, all ranging from 14 to 19 points, a list that included Quinton Upshur, who had a career-high 15. The contest marked the most points VMI had scored since Nov. 29, 2010, a 151-point outburst against Central Penn College, and was the 48th time the Keydets had notched at least 100 points under head coach Duggar Baucom.

The Buffaloes stayed with VMI early, and held four leads in the game’s opening moments. Kyle Grisby made two free throws at the 13:34 mark, breaking a 12-12 tie and giving Milligan the lead for the final time. The Keydets answered with their first key run, a 13-3 spurt, to seize a nine-point edge with 11:16 left in the half. Upshur was key, scoring seven straight points to spark the push.

The visitors then scored four of the game’s next five points, including a Cordero Seymour jumper, and climbed back within six, but the home team responded with a 13-4 run to seize a 16-point advantage, 38-22, with 8:22 remaining in the first half. Sparks had the key play of the push, a four-point play after being fouled while making a three-pointer.

That play capped the run, and set Milligan up for its final run of the day. A 6-1 spurt cut the Keydet lead to 11, 39-28, with 6:18 on the clock, but VMI went on an 11-3 run to take a 19-point lead, 50-31. The Keydets then outscored Milligan, 11-6, over the remainder of the half to account for their 61-37 halftime cushion.

In addition to shooting 75% from the floor in the first period, the Keydets held a 20-6 edge in points in the paint. Upshur led the way for the home team with 14 markers in the first half, while Mickey Woods and Tyler DeVault had eight apiece for Milligan.

The home team gradually extended its lead in the second half. Stan Okoye had steals and dunks on back to back possessions early, giving VMI its first 30-point cushion, 70-39, with 18:02 remaining. Over the next several minutes, Milligan could get no closer than 29, while Okoye extended the margin to 35 at 10:31, converting an old fashioned three-point play to make it an 89-54 contest.

The junior forward extended the lead to 40 some three minutes later, scoring on yet another steal and dunk to put VMI at triple digits, 100-60, and the VMI bench extended the lead to 50, 122-71, in the final minute on a Jarid Watson dunk. Milligan scored on its final possession to account for the final margin.

In addition to Sparks and Upshur, Okoye and Keith Gabriel had 14 points apiece, while Rodney Glasgow had 15. Ron Burks led VMI with five assists, while Glasgow added four, as did Gabriel, a mark one short of the senior’s career high. The Keydets also blocked a season-high nine shots in the victory.

The Buffaloes were led by Woods’ 12 points, but did shoot an impressive 19 of 20 from the foul line in a  game that saw 46 fouls called.

VMI basketball will return to action Monday, traveling to Farmville, Va. to face the Longwood Lancers. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

Quotes – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom

“That certainly was our most complete game. Quinton Upshur came in and gave us a big lift, after Stan Okoye and Nick Gore got into a bit of foul trouble. I was really pleased with the way the guys finished the game. I thought Rodney Glasgow had another good floor game, kept us in our defenses and set things on the court. Ron Burks was very solid also.”

“We wrote up on our board “consistent effort”, and that’s what we got today.”

“We took better shots and really shared the ball. We only took 25 three-pointers to get 12 made.”


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