If family and friends of Dip Metress have yet to buy him a Christmas gift, they won't need to do so in the remaining shopping days.
Setting another school record Saturday is enough to make him happy.
Alex Smith posted a career-high 28 points and the third-ranked Jaguars pulled away late for a 90-70 win over Emmanuel College at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
Augusta State improved to 9-0 overall, marking the best start in school history. The previous best start (8-0) was set by the 1965-66 squad.
"I don't need a Christmas present," said Metress, the sixth-year Jaguars coach. "No one would've envisioned us being 9-0."
"That's outstanding," said Smith, the team's senior center. "That's another bonus for playing with a good team. We're playing well right now."
Augusta State senior guard Ben Madgen said: "For four years we've been pretty good. To go 9-0 with this team is really good. We've worked really hard to accomplish that. Hopefully, we can keep it going after the Christmas break."
Augusta State, which is off until its Dec. 30 home game against Mount Olive, was coming off an emotional win over rival Clayton State on Tuesday. Several players planned to drive home to northern Virginia, where there's more than a foot of snow on the ground, after the game.
"You always worry about the mental makeup of your team right before the break," Metress said. "(Emmanuel) is a good team. We knew that coming in."
Emmanuel, an NAIA member and also the defending National Christian College Athletic Association national champion, fell to 11-3. The Lions hit 10 of their 22 3-point attempts, the most Augusta State has allowed all season. Tedrick Hudson led the Lions with 21 points.
Emmanuel trailed by double digits three times in the first half but battled back every time. The Lions trailed by 17 five minutes into the second half, but wouldn't go away.
"They're a good team," Madgen said. "And at the start, I think maybe we thought we were going to win a little easy. But after the first five minutes, we knew they were a good team."
Smith tied his personal best for most points in a game. He dominated down low, converting eight of 10 attempts. Smith added six rebounds and a block.
"I'm just looking to be more aggressive offensively," he said. "If I produce down there, then the defense is going to close down on me which frees my teammates up later on in the game."
Madgen, who shot 3 for 10 from the floor, made 12 of 14 free-throw attempts. With 20 points, he climbed into second place on the Augusta State and Peach Belt Conference all-time scoring lists with 1,833 points. He needs 31 points for the conference record and 63 for the school mark.
Senior point guard Daniel Dixon did not get the start for the first time this season because he was late to the 10 a.m. shootaround. Metress originally planned not to play him. Instead, the other four seniors persuaded Metress to sit him to start the game. Dominic Morra got his first start.
Dixon made up for his mistake, scoring 10 of 13 points after halftime and adding six assists and four steals.
"The seniors said he could just have a few minutes on the bench to teach him a lesson," Madgen said, laughing.
Up 71-64 with 6:08 to go, the Jaguars closed the game on a 19-6 run. Dixon scored on a pair of fast-break layups during that stretch, while Fred Brathwaite scored two of his 19 points on an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Dixon.
"This is a good way to win, having to execute to win," Metress said. "Some guys made some big plays down the stretch."
Augusta State played without backup forward Franck Ndongo, who sat out because of a left hamstring injury.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.