Jones scored 15 points off the bench to help TC defeat Morris College, 81-65 on Thursday.
“Elijah Jones, it was his first game back,” TC head coach Matt Cross said. “He’s had an unfortunate injury. He was misdiagnosed last year while he was at Blinn Junior College when I coached against him. They diagnosed him with a sports hernia when in fact he didn’t have one and they actually operated on that. So, it took us a while to figure out what was really going on. We had to take him to Atlanta to the Atlanta Falcons doctor so we could try to start properly treating it. It’s unfortunate we didn’t find out earlier because he would’ve made a big difference for us this year. I think hopefully he can give us the spark that we need down the stretch.”
With TC and Morris College deadlocked at 5-5 early on, Jones had a big-time dunk to help TC take a 7-5 lead and get the biggest reaction of the night from the home crowd.
Later in the first half, TC used a 7-0 run to run their lead up to double digits. Andre Jackson sank two free throws to start the run. That was followed by a transition basket by Jones, which was then capped by Keenen Coleman knocking down a 3-pointer to move the team’s lead to 28-16.
TC finished the first half on a 5-0 run with Delonte Boyd hitting a free throw, a 2-point basket off a Jimmie Davis assist, then took a charge, before Phil Wood finished the run and the half with an off-the-glass basket to give TC a 41-25 lead.
TC shot 54 percent from the field in the first half, while Morris College only shot 29 percent on field goals.
“It wasn’t anything special that we were doing offensively to shoot it at 54 percent,” Cross said. “They were just a very bad defensive team, as well as it wasn’t anything that we were doing special defensively. They were just a bad offensive team.”
After three points for Morris College, Jones started TC’s second half scoring by grabbing a rebound and dunking it for a 43-28 lead. Moments later, he had another dunk on a fast break transition that made it 53-30. The second dunk was sandwiched in between two Jimmie Davis 3-pointers. After Davis’s second 3-point shot, TC held a commanding 56-32 lead with 14:33 left in the game. At the sound of the final buzzer, TC had a 81-65 victory.
Cross hopes the win is a sign of a strong finish in store for the team, but remained guarded in his expectations.
“It was a bad start to the year for us,” he said. “It was a bad start to conference play for us. We didn’t play very well in November, December or January, so I look forward to February and hopefully March. But the thing about playing basketball in February going into March is that you simply have to care with a capital c, a, r and an e, primarily when it comes to just rebounding the basketball and taking care of the ball. Those two things win games in February and in the postseason. We’ve got to find a way to continue to practice and practice with all of our players without having injuries, so we can develop that type of chemistry where we’re able to rebound as a team, we’re able to take care of the ball as a team, and we’re able to identify roles. If we can do that, I think we’ll have a chance, but then again, that might just be wishful thinking.”