Joe Brown, Saturday night's "un-American," looked like an All-American last night, scoring 20 points in the first half during Coppin State's 85-59 victory over Florida A&M.;
Brown, a senior from Philadelphia, finished the game with 35 points, besting his career high of 30 set against this same Rattlers team on Dec. 4.
It was a far cry from the eight minutes he played against Bethune-Cookman two nights before - which Coppin coach Fang Mitchell called "un-American" - going scoreless and committing three charges on the way to fouling out.
"Since I've been here, Coach Mitchell been telling me that when adversity hits, the man comes out," said Brown, who also has been nursing a hamstring injury. "I've tried to follow that as much as possible."
The 85 points were the most for Coppin this season. The outburst represents what could be a major development for a team that is gearing up for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament in early March.
After previous games, Mitchell expressed satisfaction with his team's defense, but wondered if effective offense would ever be part of the equation. The Eagles (9-11, 7-5 MEAC) score fewer points than any other MEAC school, 61 a game. Of course, Florida A&M; (5-15, 3-9) allows more points than any other MEAC school. Teams have shot nearly 50 percent from the field against the Rattlers this season.
By those measures, Coppin's point total shouldn't have been a surprise, and the .429 field-goal percentage could be seen by some as a disappointment.
Take away Brown, and Coppin went without a field goal for the first 7:55 of the game and couldn't shoot better than 40 percent in the first half.
But Brown, who never got untracked on Saturday night, hit his first two shots - a pair of three-pointers - and scored 16 points over the first 12 minutes as the Eagles raced out to a 29-9 lead that was 40-26 at the half.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Florida A&M; coach Mickey Clayton said. "We have to play with more defensive intensity for longer periods of time."
While Coppin looked like a one-man band on offense, everyone overwhelmed the Rattlers on defense. The Eagles held Florida A&M; to 33 percent shooting, but they were most impressive in keeping the visitors from getting shots off at all. Nearly three minutes elapsed in the game before guard Michael Shipp fired a shot that missed, thanks to three Florida A&M; turnovers.
Over the last five minutes of the first half, the Rattlers cut into the lead of Coppin, which committed four turnovers while going scoreless and giving up an 8-0 run that delayed the blowout and made Mitchell unhappy.
"We should be delivering a knockout punch and we were being erratic," the coach said. "That's not how you get things accomplished. We got together about that at halftime."
The haymaker finally came over a five-minute stretch beginning at the 9:00 mark. Coppin went on an 18-3 run that ended when forward Donnell Thomas made a three-point play for a 77-42 lead with 4:38 left.
By that time, Brown had left the game. Seldom-used reserves Mark Davis-McCrary and Jason Iacona entered and drew roars when they scored their one and two points, respectively.
"That's what team means, to be able to allow all of us to compete," said Mitchell, who also got 16 points and five steals from Larry Tucker and 10 points from Enrique Nieves. "It's because our starters and key reserves went out and gave a great effort."
FLORIDA A&M-Tudeme; 3-11 7-8 13, Cisse 1-1 1-1 3, Hill 0-2 0-0 0, Wilkins 2-8 6-6 10, Shipp 0-6 0-0 0, Harris 1-1 0-0 2, Ross 2-7 2-4 6, Mobley 0-1 0-0 0, Miles 7-20 1-2 19, Darling 0-1 0-0 0, Jenkins 0-0 6-8 6. Totals 16-58 23-29 59.
COPPIN STATE-Poster 1-5 2-2 4, Tucker 5-14 6-6 16, Huff 1-2 0-0 2, Sims 1-3 5-5 7, Brown 10-17 12-16 35, Perez 0-0 1-2 1, Nieves 2-5 5-6 10, Thomas 3-5 1-1 7, Davis-McCrary 0-2 1-2 1, Iacona 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-56 33-40 85.
Half: Coppin State, 40-26. 3-point goals: FAMU 4-19 (Miles 4-11, Mobley 0-1, Shipp 0-1, Wilkins 0-2, Ross 0-4); CS 4-13 (Brown 3-5, Nieves 1-3, Poster 0-1, Sims 0-1, Tucker 0-1, Davis-McCrary 0-2). Rebounds: FAMU 37 (Miles 7); CS 41 (Thomas 12). Assists: FAMU 4 (Wilkins 3); CS 13 (Nieves, Sims 3). Total fouls: FAMU 28, CS 23. Fouled out: Tudeme, Poster. A: 504.