Jaguars primed for D-II title run

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Tight white nets were attached to the orange rims less than an hour after Augusta State's monumental men's basketball victory over Clayton State on Tuesday.

The Jaguars' Tyrekus "A.J." Bowman was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 82 points in three games.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
The Jaguars' Tyrekus "A.J." Bowman was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 82 points in three games.

The Jaguars defeated their Peach Belt Conference rival 89-72 in the South Atlantic Regional final at Christenberry Fieldhouse, continuing their season for potentially three more games with their historic run to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.

Tenth-ranked Augusta State (25-6) will face No. 21 Central Oklahoma (28-5) at noon Wednesday in Springfield, Mass.

"Whoever plays best is going to win," Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. "If we play well, we'll have a chance to win."

If the Jaguars win, they will advance to play in the Final Four against either No. 4 Alaska-Anchorage (28-5) or No. 9 California (Pa.) (28-5) at 6 p.m. March 27.

Augusta State becomes just the fourth Peach Belt Conference team to advance to the Elite Eight. The last league team to advance, Kennesaw State, went on to win the national championship in 2004.

Clayton State coach Gordon Gibbons, who advanced to the Elite Eight three times at Florida Southern, said he believes the Jaguars have all the makings of a national title contender.

"One, you have to have a center. You're not winning unless you have a center," he said. "The second thing you have to have is three players just as good as any team you're going to play against. They've got that. The third thing they have to have is solid role players that do whatever the team needs to win.

"In my opinion, the team has what it takes to win a national championship."

Augusta State features All-American senior forward Tyrekus "A.J." Bowman, who was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 82 points in three games. Junior center Garret Siler (6-foot-11, 304 pounds) led Division II in field-goal percentage. Sophomore guard Ben Madgen posted 10 20-point games, including a 24-performance in the regional final.

The Jaguars earned a well-deserved day off Wednesday. They are expected to return to practice today and will fly to Massachusetts on Monday.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

DIVISION II ELITE 8


The following NCAA Division II quarterfinal games will be played Wednesday in Springfield, Mass.:


- Augusta State vs. Central Oklahoma, noon


- Alaska-Anchorage vs. California (Pa.), 2:30 p.m.


- Grand Valley State vs. Winona State, 6


- Bentley vs. North Alabama, 8:30


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