Dixon 's inspired play ignites Jaguars ' rout

After a dismal performance in the first half, Daniel Dixon sat down at his locker at halftime and gave himself a pep talk.


"Just go out there and play hard," he said. "Play the way your teammates can play and give all the glory to God."

Dixon's self motivation translated into a season-high 20 points, all in the second half, to help No. 3 Augusta State pull away for a 97-67 win over Flagler at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Augusta State shook off a first-half funk to improve its school record start to 12-0 (4-0 Peach Belt Conference). The Jaguars scored a season high in points and recorded a season-low six turnovers.

Flagler scored two quick baskets after halftime to pull within 39-37. Augusta State responded with a 31-8 run.

"They made us angry," said Jaguars senior center Alex Smith, who scored 15 points. "We were a little flat. We decided we needed to toughen up."

All-American Ben Madgen, who became the Peach Belt Conference's all-time leading scorer in Monday night's win at North Georgia, drained four 3-pointers en route to 21 points, his highest output in four games. The Augusta State senior guard pushed his career point total to 1,887, and he needs just nine more points to pass Derek Stewart to become the school's all-time leading scorer. He will go for the mark Saturday in the Jaguars' home game against Francis Marion (7:30 p.m.).

"Hopefully, he'll get it against Francis Marion," Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. "Ben's had a phenomenal career. And he'll tell you it's about the wins. He doesn't know how many points he has."

Dixon had no points after a subpar effort in the first half in which he struggled on defense and missed his lone field-goal attempt. With 5:48 left before halftime, Metress pulled his senior point guard and gave him an earful after Flagler scored in transition.

"I wasn't into in it the first half," said Dixon, who added a poor shoot-around carried over into the game. "I made some dumb mistakes. I really wasn't focused."

Dixon came out of the locker room with renewed vigor, and Metress put his best defender, senior guard Fred Brathwaite, on Flagler's John Pietkiewicz. The 6-foot-4 Saints guard poured in four 3-pointers over Augusta State's smaller guards in the first half. Against the 6-4 Brathwaite, Pietkiewicz put up an air ball and connected on one 3-point attempt the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Meanwhile, Dixon began heating up. He knocked down a 14-foot jumper 46 seconds into the second half. Madgen then knocked down a pair of 3s. Dixon added a driving layup. He then stole the ball at midcourt and laid in a finger-roll layup, extending the lead to 55-39.

Metress fired up the fans behind him and then started waving his arms to the fans on the other side of the floor.

"We were lethargic at halftime -- coaches, players, fans," Metress said. "Everybody in the arena thought we were just going to walk out and win the game.

"Give Flagler credit. They played great in the first half. They were more disciplined. But in the second half, the floodgates were open."

Dixon wasn't finished. He dropped a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After a Franck Ndongo 3-pointer, Dixon connected on consecutive threes. Then, Madgen swished a 3-pointer from the wing. Suddenly, Augusta State, which converted 12 of its first 15 field-goal attempts of the second half, led by 25 with 11:50 left in the game.

"Once he gets going, you can't stop him" Madgen said about Dixon.

Dixon left the game with 5:37 remaining after shooting 7 for 8 from the field in the second half. He added five assists and three steals.

Brathwaite chipped in with 20 points, nine boards and two blocks for the Jaguars. Augusta State shot 56 percent from the field to extend its home winning streak to 21 games.

Flagler (5-5, 1-1), which put up five air balls in the second half, shot 39 percent from the field after halftime. Pietkiewicz scored a game-high 22 points.



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