MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Wranglers stay unbeaten in conference
Jan 18, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Odessa College men's basketball team won its ninth consecutive game Thursday, running away from New Mexico Military Institute for a 79-64 victory at the OC Sports Center.
After overcoming a sluggish start, the Wranglers (15-3 overall, 5-0 WJCAC) switched gears and used a 16-0 run early in the first half to gain control and never looked back.
When the visiting Broncos (5-12, 1-3) got out to a 6-2 lead, OC head coach Tra Arnold called a quick time out and rallied his team.
"We were off to a tough start," Wranglers sophomore Chris Hooper said. "Then after that timeout, we just started pushing it and pushing it. Next thing you know, it went from 6-2, to 18-6.
"Our defense is everything. Coach stresses defense, defense, defense. It's a real plus, especially when shots aren't falling. We can always rely on defense."
The Wranglers held New Mexico Military to 7-of-21 shooting in the first half and forced a total of 16 Broncos turnovers, which led to points on the other end.
Odessa College scored 18 points off the turnovers after shaking off the sluggish start, leading by as many as 28 points in the second half.
"We just came out kind of lackadaisical," Wranglers guard Ladon Carnegie said. "It was a whole team thing. We we're kind of nonchalant, but we got it together. The offense is going to come, but what really kept us going was the defense."
Daishon Knight scored a team-high 17 points for Odessa College while Deonnte Breedlove and Darrious Curry came off the bench to score 13 and 10 points respectively.
Breedlove sparked the Wranglers, doing all of his scoring in the second half, along with five rebounds, two blocked shots and three steals.
"We needed him desperately," Arnold said. "He made some shots, got some stops, because some other guys just weren't into it mentally. He was into it and did a good job for us."
Arnold despite his team's run, which includes wins in 13 of the last 14 games and a perfect start to conference, has taken a toll.
"It's been a tough stretch and we came out sluggish," he said. "And anytime you come off a game that was as emotional as Monday (a 58-56 win at rival Midland College) you're concerned. We had a letdown, but we did enough to win tonight. We're fortunate it was a 15-point win."
The Wranglers were whistled for 22 fouls, putting New Mexico Military in the double bonus in both halves, but the Broncos only made 14 successful free throws.
Ta'Jay Henry led New Mexico Military with a game-high 19 points.
Odessa College shot 46 percent from the field and connected on eight 3-pointers.
The Wranglers are back in action on their home court twice next week, hosting No. 8 Howard College on Monday and South Plains College on Thursday.
Howard was ranked No. 2 in the nation prior to the start of conference play, South Plains was No. 1.
"Those are definitely two teams in this conference that have historically been good teams, and they're both really good teams this year," Arnold said. "So hopefully we'll be ready for the challenge. It's a big week for us. We're fortunate to be where we're at, now we've got to keep moving forward and get better."
--Follow Mike Whitson on Twitter at @OAWhitson
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