O’Neal Armstrong doesn’t mind coming off the bench.
And after two games of doing so, he’s beginning to produce big numbers for Augusta State.
The senior guard scored a career-high 23 points Wednesday night to help lead the Jaguars to a 72-64 win over Lander at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
Augusta State improved to 7-6 overall, 3-2 in Peach Belt Conference play. The Jaguars snapped Lander’s six-game winning streak and have won 10 in a row against the Bearcats.
Augusta State now embarks on a three-game road trip, including Monday’s contest at East Division leader USC Aiken (10-2, 4-0). The Jaguars will close out January with seven games in a 15-day stretch.
“We’ve got seven games before my milk goes bad in my refrigerator,” Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. “So we had to get this win. I was real proud of the way guys stepped up.”
Armstrong helped fill the void of leading scorer Harold Doby, who served a one-game suspension because of an altercation Saturday. Armstrong, who scored 11 points in the previous game against North Georgia, shot 8 for 13 from the field, with five 3-pointers.
Armstrong credited his shooting to his added work in the weight room.
Also, coming of the bench since Saturday has helped, he said.
“It really gives me a spark in the sense that I know I’ve got to get it going,” Armstrong said.
“I can see and feel the game better from the bench. Then when I come in I can add to the game what I can.”
With Doby missing, Augusta State shot just 40 percent from the floor.
But the Jaguars shot 17 for 20 from the free-throw line and limited Lander (9-3, 3-2) to 46 percent field-goal shooting.
Devon Wright Nelson posted 13 points and nine rebounds, while Travis Keels added 11 points and nine boards.
Devonte Thomas swished three 3-pointers en route to 12 points.
“We’re just stepping up right now,” Keels said. “Doby’s a great player and he helps us a lot. Since he’s out, everybody just had to step up.”
Augusta State played in memory of former student Matt Miklas, who died in November.
With Miklas’ wheelchair sitting in front of the student section, the Jaguars canned nine 3-pointers.
Metress plans to donate $216 – $24 for each 3-pointer – to the Matt Miklas scholarship fund.
It would’ve been Miklas’ 24th birthday Wednesday.
“He was a special guy,” Metress said. “Everybody you come across has a Matt story.”