Jacksonville State (92) vs. North Alabama (83) 02/24/2023

Game #118 of 362 32% complete

After spending the day in Huntsville playing Topgolf and visiting the Space Museaum (pictures below), I made the hour-long trek to Florence, Alabama, right on the Tennessee border. Given that my hotel is in Birmingham, that made for a long two-hour drive back after the game. Making a three-game trip in a rural state like Alabama makes for some long drives. On a side note, I still cannot get over the fact that Jacksonville State is from Alabama.

The student section contained a line of young women dressed in different colors. They were one angry bunch arguing every call and letting the refs know about their displeasure. I could not hear them from across the court, but I am sure it was interesting. The band even started a “Refs you suck ” chant.

If the DJ working at the game is reading this, you need to take the volume down a couple of notches. I saw this elderly couple in front of me with their hands over their ears. That being said, kudos to you for being the first school in my travels to play “Welcome to the Jungle”.

North Alabama had quite a success as a Division 2 program before transitioning to Division 1 in 2018. The Lions also went to the Division 2 Final Four in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1984. UNA secured three Gulf South Conference championships in 1977, 1981, and 1984 and three league tournament titles in 1981, 1984 and 1988. 

It is rare that I see the visiting team win on my travels. The Gamecock’s outstanding play in this game made me question their 13-18 record. JSU guards Demaree King and Marcellus Bringham scored 29 and 25 points respectively. Outstanding freshman Jacari Lane scored 26 points for the Lions in a losing effort.

I was very impressed with the two high-def televisions playing the game from the ESPN plus feed. Given the very small gym, it was unnecessary to look at the TVs for a better view but helpful in looking at disputed calls and reviews.

I just saw that the 6th seeded North Alabama was defeated by 3rd seeded Eastern Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference playoffs, so their season has ended.

Earlier in the day, I spent about 2 hours at the U.S Space and Rocket center museum in Huntsville. If you are a boomer with any interest in our space exploits, this is the place to visit. You can see the Mercury, Gemini and Appolo capsules along with the lunar module. The Saturn rocket lies in the ceiling above, covering the length of the building. Many displays attempt to explain the mechanics and physics behind space travel. The history of our race with Russia was headed by a team of Germans. Wehner Von Brahm led this team and began the space program in the 1950’s. His life and mission are documented throughout the museum. I miss those days of watching launches on TV.

Jacksonville State (70) vs. Tennessee Tech (72) 02/13/2016

#32 of 351

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Cookeville, Tennessee. Ever heard of it? Me neither. But here I was in Cookeville on a Saturday night in February. I was driving from Chattanooga to Cookeville accounting for the one hour difference in time. Yes, Cookeville is on Central Standard Time. As I pull ¬†into the parking lot 2 hours two early, I see a parking lot full of cars. My plan was to find the school first and then head off to a local watering hole. Piquing my interest, I pulled into the parking lot and after much difficulty found what I think was the last parking spot. I headed inside to find out that this was the infamous girls/men doubleheader. Knowing somewhere that I heard Tennessee Tech had a good women’s program, I headed to my seat and watched the second half. No commentary for the ladies game¬†will be found here.

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This was a dress in pink night to support a cure for breast cancer as you can see above.

So naturally, the women’s game heads into overtime. I am calculating in my head the return time to Chattanooga (actual time was 1:15AM). The Tech women won so the crowd was in a good mood for the men’s game.

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I am all for getting a free T-shirt thrown by a cheerleader. Although never having caught one during my journey, my dream is to catch one and hand the t-shirt to a child whom I just stepped in front of to catch the t-shirt. The crowd will erupt with mild applause. I will shake it off like this is something I do every day. But the Tennessee Tech folks have an annoying of throwing t-shirts DURING the game not during a time out. The crowd would stand up begging for a t-shirt blocking the view of folks who could care less.

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This was the most exciting game of my journey so far. The scored was tied at 70 with about 7 seconds left. Tech takes the ball down court and shoots a wild three pointer with virtually no time left on the clock. He was fouled in the act. The Tech player sinks 2 out of 3 foul shots and wins the game.

Both teams are in the Ohio Valley Conference which I think is a league made up for teams that no other league wants. But I have noticed that the size of the scoreboard is inversely proportional to the size of the program. The scoreboard was huge and brilliant. OVC – not so much.

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