The Jacksonville Giants improved to 16-4 with a thrilling road victory over the eighth ranked Chicago Steam, 112-108. The Giants are 5-0 vs the Steam dating back to the 2015 Final Four. The victory gives the Giants nine wins this season vs top 10 ranked opponents. Jacksonville will finish the two game series with Chicago on Sunday before travelling to the east coast for games at Richmond Elite (February 12th) and the DMV Warriors in Baltimore (February 13th).
The hostile Chicago crowd did not phase the Giants. Jacksonville jumped out to an early 31-23 lead. The Giants put on a three point shooting clinic in the first quarter, landing a total of five three point baskets, keeping the team energized versus a stingy Chicago defense. Bernard Nugent and Maurice Mickens added two, three pointers each, with Elijah Smith adding one. Unfortunately, Nugent injured his ankle late in the first quarter diving for a loose ball, which put him out of the game.
Despite Nugent’s injury, Jacksonville rallied in the second quarter keeping the Steam out of contention. Jacksonville continued to play aggressive defensive and a fast tempo offense, which gave them a 62-45 halftime lead. The Giants mixed up their defensive strategy to keep the Chicago offense one dimensional. Mickens, Chris Blake, and Quinton Bastain led the second quarter scoring.
“Tough guys for tough battles,” said Mickens, who had 17 total points.
Veteran Ed Horton provided a second half spark, knocking down two straight three pointers and adding 12 third quarter points. Horton finished the game with a team high 24 points. The guard tandem of Horton and Mickens once again gained strength against the Chicago defense. Both guards landed key third quarter shots propelling the team to a 91-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We were relentless tonight,” said Horton.
Chicago made a late fourth quarter run to keep the game competitive, but the Steam were unable to take the lead. Andre Muse led Chicago with 24 points with Bobby Grier adding 19. Horton (24 points), Mickens (17 points), and Calvin Warner (13 points) led the scoring for the Giants.