FLINT, Michigan — Two of Michigan’s top JUCO players went punch-for-punch Saturday night at the Steve Schmidt Gymnasium in Flint. The last man standing was Malik Albert, whose stock is rising with each passing game.
Albert scored 30 points to lead no. 2-ranked Mott to a 92-77 win over Jevonte Hughes and Kalamazoo Valley. It was the sophomore guard’s second consecutive game with 30 or more points. So far this season, Albert is averaging 28 points per game.
This was a bigger win for the Bears than one might think, after KVCC’s surprising win over no. 8-ranked Owens on Wednesday night. The Cougars scored 117 points on Owens in Toledo, but could not handle Mott’s defensive pressure. KVCC lost the turnover battle 18-7 and that factor, more than any other, cost them a chance to win the game.
Both teams played exceptionally well offensively, shooting 50 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
Mott led by eight at the half and by as many as 22 midway through the second half.
The Bears were dominant in the backcourt throughout the game; Albert and freshman Marcus Johnson were unstoppable on the offensive end. Johnson only scored nine points, but dished out eight assists with just one turnover. The pair played a combined 70 minutes.
Ruston Hayward had his best game as a Bear, scoring 13 points with nine rebounds. The 6-5 small forward from Houston was all over the floor tonight and, in spite of a few short misses, showed Mott fans a little glimpse of what is certainly to come. He’s as talented as anyone on the roster, save for Albert.
Devin Foster and Jamal Reynolds added 12 and 10, respectively.
For KVCC (2-1), Hughes was a total beast. The sophomore from Loy Norrix in Kalamazoo scored 23 points with 10 rebounds and one unbelievable dunk. Davonte Harris added 18.
Mott (3-0) will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night on the road against rival Lansing. It will be another tough test for Mott, as the Stars have scored 100 or more points in the last three games — all wins.