Luke Bolanos, Director of Athletic Communications
HARROGATE, Tenn. – Following a 19-day break from competition due to COVID-19 issues, the second-ranked Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball team returned in a big way Sunday afternoon in a top-15 showdown with 11th-ranked The University of Alabama in Huntsville inside B. Frank “Tex” Turner Arena. The Railsplitters (3-0) won their 35th consecutive game with a dominant 93-68 victory, extending the nation’s longest winning streak among all levels of college basketball after scoring 57 second-half points behind 58.6 percent (17-of-29) shooting.
Holding the visiting Chargers (0-1) to 28 first-half points, LMU took a six-point lead into halftime and never looked back after the break. Connecting on just four of their 18 first-half tries from behind the arc (22.2 percent), the Railsplitters reversed things in the last 20 minutes of play as they shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from deep in the second half. Behind 18 second-half points from redshirt senior guard Devin Whitfield, who made his first start of 2020-21, LMU looked unstoppable on the offensive end of the court.
Assisting on 27 of their 31 made field goals, the Railsplitters claimed their first win over UAH since February of 2003. Keeping the Chargers to 36.5 percent (23of-63) shooting in the old Gulf South Conference rivalry, LMU was physical on the glass and held a plus-five rebounding margin (40-35).
Junior forward Jordan Guest was nothing shy of authoritative, imposing his will with a double-double in the first half and finishing his career day with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, 15 rebounds and three assists. In only 25 minutes of action, the Tallahassee Community College and Boston University transfer went 3-for-5 from long range and had a block, not to mention drawing six fouls.
The Chargers were unable to keep pace with the host Railsplitters, who scored 21 points off the fast break and came away with 13 steals. UAH did get 41 points off its bench and held a 30-28 advantage in the paint.
Withstanding a 13-6 Charger run after LMU built a 19-10 lead, the Railsplitters closed the final three minutes of the first half on a 11-5 run of their own. Guest had 13 points and 10 boards at the break with LMU shooting 45.2 percent (14-of-31) in the first 20 minutes and UAH just 35.5 percent (11-of-31).
An explosive 16-5 run to begin the second half gave the Railsplitters a commanding 52-33 lead before LMU broke things wide open. Completing a 19-7 run in the first 3:16 of the second half with a Guest three pointer, the Railsplitters went ahead by 20 at 55-35. However, UAH would go on a 18-12 run over the next seven-and-a-half minutes of play to get within 14 at 67-53 with just under 10 minutes to go.
A trey from sophomore guard Jeremiah Keene capped a 10-4 LMU run and got the Railsplitters back in front by 20 at 77-57. LMU kept its foot on the gas and didn’t let up for the remainder of the game as the Railsplitters went on an impressive 15-0 spurt in 2:14. A three ball by senior guard Alex Dahling gave the Blue and Gray a convincing 34-point lead at 92-58 with only 3:40 remaining, and LMU was able to go deep into its bench.
Preseason All-Americans Whitfield and redshirt junior guard Cameron Henry were spectacular. Whitfield finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including five three pointers, and four assists. Henry simply filled up the stat sheet, scoring 18 points, dishing out a game-best eight assists, grabbing five rebounds and tying his career high in steals with five.
UAH was led by Nathan Moore, who scored a team-high 20 points and pulled down a team-best nine rebounds in 19-and-a-half minutes off the bench. The Chargers also got double-figure scoring from guard Sam Orf (14) and Auston Leslie (11).
True freshmen Tyler McKinney and Jordan Walters both made their Railsplitter debuts, finishing out the final 3:25 of the contest.
The Railsplitters step back into SAC play and hit the road Wednesday, Dec. 16 when LMU travels to Salisbury, North Carolina, to take on Catawba in a rare 1 p.m. midweek tip-off.