AIKEN — In the final minute of the game, Georgia Regents coach Dip Metress slapped hands with senior center K.J. Sherrill on the sideline – a high-five to remember.
After years of futility at USC Aiken’s Convocation Center, the Jaguars jettisoned their jinx in a huge way.
K.J. and Keshun Sherrill combined for 41 points Saturday night as Georgia Regents pulled away in the second half to stun the ninth-ranked Pacers, 97-84, in front of a crowd of 3,203 fans.
With the victory, the Jaguars (17-3, 10-1) pulled into a tie with USC Aiken (18-3, 10-1) for the Peach Belt Conference lead with eight games remaining in the regular season. Georgia Regents, which also snapped a six-game losing streak to the Pacers on their home floor in the regular season, broke USC Aiken’s 16-game home winning streak.
“We’re 5-1 on the road,” Metress said. “The whole key is to win your home games in the league and get as many as you can on the road. We got a big one tonight. Not many people are going to come in here and get a ‘W’. ”
The Sherrill brothers remained on a roll after combining for 73 points the previous two games. Keshun scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, while K.J. added 17 of his 20 after intermission.
Georgia Regents had its chances to fold in the first half when K.J. Sherrill left with two fouls just 2:08 into the game. Then, team leading scorer Ryan Weems sprained his ankle three minutes later and didn’t return.
The Jaguars responded with a banner night from forward Ronell Crockett, who scored 17 points and added seven boards – his best game in two months. Harold Doby recorded 11 points, six boards and three steals. And Henry McCarthy came off the bench for four points and four boards, helping fill the void in the middle on the defensive end.
“It was a team effort. Everybody picked up each other,” K.J. Sherrill said. “I like our team, because when we get under pressure we still remain calm.”
USC Aiken, the top defensive team in the league, entered the contest holding opponents to 65 points a game on 37 percent shooting from the floor.
The Jaguars out-muscled the Pacers around the basket, shooting 59 percent from the field (70 percent in the second half).
Georgia Regents scored 44 points in the paint and made just one 3-pointer.
“We just didn’t do a good job on defense,” said USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander, whose team allowed its most points in a game this season. “All around, we didn’t play well. We didn’t make free throws. We just did a poor job all around.”
Georgia Regents held a 55-54 lead with 13:54 remaining before opening up the game.
USC Aiken hurt its cause at the foul line, missing twice on the front end of a 1-and-1. Then, Zimmerman, who had a game-high 24 points, missed one of two. Also, the Pacers went more than five minutes without a field goal.
During that span, Crockett hit two layups and added a three-point play. D’Angelo Boyce, whose bank-in 3-pointer at the end of the first half staked the Jaguars to a 44-42 lead at intermission, followed with a floater in the lane. Then, Keshun Sherrill drilled a 10-foot jumper. On the next possession, Sherrill added an 18-foot jumper.
K.J. Sherrill got in on the action when he drove left past Paul Larsen and Alvin Brown, knocking down a layup as he was fouled. Sherrill swished the free throw to cap a 16-3 run. Georgia Regents led 71-57 and didn’t look back.