ESTERO, Fla. — The Wildcats opened the 2020-21 season with a dominant defensive performance over the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. From the first possession it was obvious that the ACU defense had picked up right where they left off back in March. The team forced 23 turnovers and totaled eight steals as they produced a plus-eight turnover margin reminiscent of so many of their games from a year ago.
Clay Gayman was perfect from the field (5-5) dropping 17 points, Kolton Kohl tallied a double-double, and Coryon Mason added 13 points of his own.
After the Bucs took a 6-5 lead early in the game a made three from Clay Gayman jumpstarted a 12-2 run by the Wildcats and they never relinquished the lead.
Immanuel Allen made his debut and scored his first bucket with a three to put the Wildcats up 15 points with six minutes left to play in the first half.
Coryon Mason made two jumpers in the last minute of the first half to keep the Wildcats lead at 10 points going into the half.
ACU would put together another 12-2 run over six minutes in the second half to push their lead to 18 points.
The Wildcats defense cracked down even further late as they totaled three steals over a four-minutes stretch late in the game to help seal the win.
The Wildcats 12-2 run early in the first help gave them a 10-point lead that they never looked back.
On competing at a high level early: “ETSU is a tough team and they have some great athletes. I was glad to see our guys met the challenge of getting stops and playing our game. We obviously pride ourselves on our defense and we had great stretches today.”
On starting the season with a win: “We are so happy to be back on the court competing and getting the opportunity to play someone other than ourselves. This was a great start to the season and we can learn from this win and get better for a tough game on Friday.”
Gayman hit a career-high five threes and went perfect from behind the arc (5-5)
Kolton Kohl secured a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards
The Wildcats had 14 assists on 20 made baskets, both Coryon Mason and Damien Daniels tallied five assists
The team shot 56.5 percent from three-point range which is a better mark than any of their games from the 2019-20 season
The Wildcats totaled a plus-eight turnover margin and forced eight total steals.
Each of the 15 players for ACU saw the court for at least two minutes.
ACU will have Thursday off and will play again on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Austin Peay.