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A closer look at Louisville's first-round opponent for the NCAA Tournament - Jacksonville State University

A closer look at Louisville's first-round opponent for the NCAA Tournament - Jacksonville State University.

It's been a storybook season for first-year Jacksonville State University basketball coach Ray Harper.

Now, the former Western Kentucky University coach has the Gamecocks in their first NCAA Tournament. Jacksonville State beat UT-Martin in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

And now Harper gets Louisville in the first round.

The Gamecocks are seeded No. 15 in the Midwest and will face the No. 2-seeded Cardinals on Friday in Indianapolis.

Here's a closer look at Jacksonville State:

The Coach

Well, Harper was the Western Kentucky coach for five seasons. He had a 89-64 record and two years got the Hilltoppers into the NCAA Tournament - both 2012 and '13.

But after losing in the C-USA tournament last season things changes. A week later, three WKU players were suspended by the school. There were reportedly no criminal charges and no NCAA allegations involved, but Harper resigned.

He replaced James Green, who had just one winning season in eight years at Jacksonville State.

Harper had won four national titles, two in Division II and two in the NAIA during his time at Kentucky Wesleyan.

The season

The Gamecocks were picked last in the OVC preseason poll and lost three of their first four games of the season, including a 74-67 loss to Western Kentucky in Bowling Green.

Jacksonville State also lost to Samford, Louisiana-Monroe and Maryland in a three-game stretch in early December and finished 9-7 in the OVC. The Gamecocks were 5-5 at home and 5-0 in neutral sites.

Jacksonville State beat SE Missouri State, Belmont and UT-Martin in the OVC tournament.

The Gamecocks record is 20-14.

The best player

Junior guard Malcolm Drumwright was a second-team All-OVC performer and is the team's best player.

The 6-foot-2 guard averages 12.6 points a game and has a team-high 129 assists.

Drumwright averages 33.1 minutes a game and is hitting 41.9 percent from the field, including 36.3 from three-point range.

Drumwright played in 30 of 31 games as a freshman and played in all 24 games last season until he suffered a season-ending injury. He averaged 14 points a game last season.

The rest of the lineup

The Gamecocks have three other players in double figures, despite as a team only averaging 69.7 points a game.

Senior guard Greg Tucker averages 11.3 points a game, while senior guard Erik Durham averages 11.1. Norbertas Giga is a 7-foot junior center who averages 10.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.

Interesting fact

Jacksonville State won the NCAA Division II national title in 1985. The Gamecocks finished 31-1 that season, beating Kentucky Wesleyan in the title game. Harper was a senior on that Wesleyan team.


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