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Men’s college basketball: Blue Bears thump Bulls

SALISBURY —  It looked like Livingstone’s men had a new player, but it was just Hakeem Jackson with a different haircut.

“Old-school ABA,” said Jackson, when asked to explain his 1970s-style Afro.

Coach James Stinson doesn’t care about Jackson’s hair as he long as he keeps producing. The high-flyer had 27 points and 14 rebounds as the Blue Bears smashed CIAA rival Johnson C.Smith 93-81 on Saturday at packed New Trent Gym.

“Great atmosphere,” Jackson said. “The crowd was a sixth man, and I like to be a crowd-pleaser.”

Jackson’s tomahawk dunk, soaring in like a 6-foot-9 helicopter, pleased many. It gave the Blue Bears (12-6, 6-3) an 88-70 lead with 3:15 left and sent high-fiving fans to the exits.

“Jackson had to sit out last year, but now he’s showing he wants to be a leader,” Stinson said.

Transfers Jackson, David Williams, Ty Newman and Daryl Traynham played at the Division I level. Their addition to returners led by guard Eric Dubose and forward Eric Mayo gives the Blue Bears a tall, talented group. The challenge is getting guys to accept roles, and it’s starting to work.

The Blue Bears have won four in a row.

“People tell me I need to have a set lineup, but I don’t,” Stinson said. “Our starters are determined by practice. We have about 13 who could start, so we have very competitive practices.”

Mayo (18 points, nine rebounds), a powerful forward, and Robert Flint, a steady guard, who scored nine points, had fine games.  Mayo and Flint were part of a bench that produced 43 points against the Golden Bulls (9-11, 3-6).

“We’ve got a lot of pieces and now we’re playing better together,” Flint said. “This was a good win over a tough rival. We can build on it.”

Livingstone led 22-18 midway through the first half, but a massive block by Jackson — he spiked the ball deep into the bleachers — started a 20-4 surge by the Blue Bears. It was 42-22 when Jackson dunked on a nice pass by Dubose.

“Defense got us going,” Mayo said. “We had intimidating blocks inside.”

Livingstone had a lull that allowed J.C. Smith to get within 49-40 at halftime. Livingstone also struggled to start the second half. The Golden Bulls got as close as 63-55, but Traynham hit a 3-pointer and Mayo dunked, and the Blue Bears regained control.

Stedmon Lemon scored 26 for the Golden Bulls.

The Blue Bears, who got 50 points in the paint, shot 53.8 percent.

“We had a pretty consistent game,” Stinson said. “There are times we try to get creative and we look like a dysfunctional team. But there are other times when we execute, we get easy baskets and we look like a well-oiled machine.”

J.C. SMITH (81)  — Lemon 26, A. Davis 10, R. Davis 9, Pratt 9, Lotharp 6, Parks 4,  Linson 6, Brown 5, Bowman 4, Bates 2, Egejuru, Ford, Joyner, Walker, Williams.

LIVINGSTONE  (93) — Jackson 27, Mayo 18, Flint 9, Traynham 9, Dubose 8, D. Johnson 6, Williams 5, Newman 5, Cole 4, Harris 2, Henry, Jones, M. Johnson, C. Johnson, Wilson .

J.C. Smith                              40         41     —  81

Livingstone                           49         44    — 93

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