Jaguars guard back on target in rout

NO. 3 AUGUSTA STATE 85, LANDER 46

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George Johnson holds true to his game-day superstitions.

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Augusta State's Franck Ndongo (front) tries to keep the ball away from Lander defenders David Pruett (left) and Jermel Kennedy during the Jaguars' 39-point Peach Belt win Saturday. 
  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta State's Franck Ndongo (front) tries to keep the ball away from Lander defenders David Pruett (left) and Jermel Kennedy during the Jaguars' 39-point Peach Belt win Saturday.

When Augusta State plays, he sticks to his normal eating routine of a sub sandwich in the morning and pasta and shrimp later. Think that's strange? He also doesn't wash his hands all day.

So after two games of shooting woes, the senior guard slipped back into his old pair of Nike Air Half Cent Penny shoes.

"They just feel good," he said.

Against Lander, Johnson set the tone early and the third-ranked Jaguars breezed to an 85-46 win Saturday.

Augusta State extended its home winning streak to 42 games and retained a three-game lead over Armstrong Atlantic State in the Peach Belt Conference East Division with six to play. The Jaguars also recorded a school-record fifth consecutive 20-win season, improving to 20-2 overall, 10-2 in conference play.

"I'm glad for us to keep the success going," said Augusta State coach Dip Metress, who goes for career win No. 299 on Monday night at home against UNC Pembroke.

"Entering the season, not many people envisioned this with all the players we lost."

Augusta State notched its biggest margin of victory this season, with four players posting double- figure scoring. The Jaguars, who spent much of the game attacking the basket, shot 56 percent from the field with 23 assists.

Caleb Brown came off the bench for a game-high 23 points in 23 minutes. Johnson added 14 points, seven boards and four assists. Franck Ndongo had 12 points, while Ben Purser added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Johnson entered 4 for 17 shooting the past two contests wearing a pair of team-issued shoes that squeezed his toes when he planted his feet. Wearing his old black-and-gray shoes against Lander, he opened the Jaguar scoring with a 3-pointer. After a layup from Ndongo and a 3-pointer from Purser, Johnson swished another three.

He later converted a three-point play to extend the lead to 17-5. Augusta State never looked back.

"It is the shoes, I guess," Johnson said. "These are my babies."

Augusta State rebounded from its 12-point loss at USC Aiken on Wednesday. The Jaguars limited Lander (8-12, 1-11) to 29 percent shooting and out-rebounded the Bearcats, 40-22.

"Coming off a loss, we've got a chip on our shoulder," Brown said. "We just tried to have a positive mind-set coming into this game."


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