In a breathtaking performance, Rasheed Sparks and Jimmy Fields sent Morgan State to its most productive game in almost a decade yesterday.
Sparks and Fields were little short of sensational yesterday as they combined for 65 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals in a 106-82 rout of Florida A&M; in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Gilman School.
The 106 points were the most by Morgan since the 1991-92 season, when the Bears lost 140-110 to Loyola Marymount.
Sparks, a slender 6-foot-3 senior slasher with a soft touch, put on a devastating long-range shooting exhibition that carried him to a career-high 39 points and a single-game school record of eight three-pointers. Sparks' points were the most by a Bears player since Eric Evans' 46 in 1976.
Fields, a 5-foot-9 junior guard from Gilman School, lit up Florida A&M; (1-12, 1-5) with 26 points, a surprising team-high seven rebounds, seven assists and one steal.
The 26 points on a splendid 9-for-12 shooting effort were just two below Fields' career high of 28 against Iona. Fields was 4-for-6 from three-point range.
Sparks was hot in the first half, hitting five three-pointers from all over the court and missing only once from beyond the arc.
He topped off the first-half show by making an acrobatic left-handed bank shot in the lane with four seconds left, giving the Bears (4-9, 3-2) a 48-30 halftime lead.
"That shot by Rasheed at the end of the first half came off a set play," Morgan coach Chris Fuller said. "I didn't know it was going to be left-handed and so spectacular. Rasheed was special today. Both he and Jimmy Fields are special players who need each other and their teammates."
Sparks, who entered the game averaging 13.8 points, finished the first half with 22 points and cooled off a little in the second half when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
But he still finished the day 8-for-14 from three-point range and 12-for-21 overall from the field, along with 7-for-11 from the free-throw line. He also had six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal in 35 minutes.
When asked why he doesn't have more magnificent days like yesterday, Sparks said, "I was just in a zone today. I never go out to see how many points I can score. I just try to get the ball to whoever is hot on the team. Today, I couldn't miss. When Jimmy scored 25 against Coppin State in a big win, he was on a roll and we fed him the ball."
For Fields, his performance was totally unexpected yesterday in a return for the third time to play college basketball on his high school court. Morgan plays some of its home games at Gilman while waiting for Hill Fieldhouse to be renovated.
"I was terrible the first two times here," said Fields. "I was 0-for-10 and 1-for-10. I was due."
Fields scored many of his baskets on bank shots after baseline drives.
He certainly seemed to have regained the touch he once had on the Gilman court.
"I'm happy," said Fields, who took an 8.8 average into the game.
So does Fuller think his team has finally turned the corner on a disappointing season to date?
"I'm from Missouri now," said Fuller. "These guys have to show me every day in practice and in every game. I said we had turned the corner after we beat Coppin State [67-66 in overtime Dec. 12] but we went right out and lost four straight before today."
FLORIDA A&M; -- Scott 3-9 3-8 11, Tubbs 1-4 0-0 2, George 6-10 3-6 15, Pippins 11-26 6-8 34, Green 2-8 4-4 8, Cuyler 1-5 2-2 4, Grant 1-8 1-2 4, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Magee 0-1 0-0 0, Rhodes 1-2 2-2 4, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-74 21-32 82.
MORGAN STATE -- Sparks 12-21 7-11 39, King 3-8 0-0 6, Lewis 0-1 0-0 0, Fields 9-12 4-4 26, Herron 2-4 0-0 5, Demory 1-5 0-0 2, Reece 0-2 0-0 0, Palmore 0-0 0-0 0, McBride 4-4 0-1-8, Van Hook 4-10 0-0 9, Bullock 0-0 2-3 2, Canady 3-6 2-2 8, Qualls 0-0 1-4 1. Totals 38-73 16-25 106.
Halftime--Morgan St. 48-30. 3-point goals--Florida A&M; 9-22 (Scott 2-4, Pippins 6-11, Green 0-1, Cuyler 0-1, Grant 1-5), Morgan St. 14-31 (Sparks 8-14, Fields 4-6, Herron 1-2, Demory 0-4, Reece 0-1, Van Hook 1-2, Canady 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Florida A&M; (George 7, Rhodes 7), Morgan St. (Fields 7). Assists--Florida A&M; (Cuyler 3), Morgan St. (Fields 7). Total fouls--Florida A&M; 20, Morgan St. 22.
Pub Date: 1/10/99