South Alabama 74, Abilene Christian 64
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ Mark Neal had a game-high 20 points Monday night as South Alabama opened its season with a 74-64 victory over Abilene Christian.
Abilene Christian (3-2) came in averaging 97 points per game, but the Jaguars’ pressing defense held the Wildcats to 39 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
It was the 199th career victory for coach Bill Musselman, in his first game at South Alabama (1-0).
Abilene Christian got to within 2 points with 1:32 left in the first half on a layup by Joseph Golden, but South Alabama led 40-31 at halftime.
The Jaguars extended the lead to 49-33 on a layup by Brandon Peterson with 14:59 to play.
USA led by 24 at the 10:32 mark, but Abilene Christian cut it to 62-53 on a Brent Wilson jumper with 2:35 left. The Wildcats could get no closer.
Musselman was not impressed by the victory.
``I thought we played outstanding defensively. On offense I thought we played stupid,″ he said. ``I’m not here to beat the Abilene Christians.″
Jason McCutcheon added 19 for USA, and Russell McCutcheon had 14.
Derrick Henley had 14 and Charles Jackson 12 for the Wildcats.