Photograph by Gary McCullough.

The defending ABA Champion Jacksonville Giants invaded Wildcat country for a showdown with the #3 ranked Atlanta Wildcats. After four physical quarters, the Giants prevailed with an authoritative 135-107 win over the previously unbeaten Wildcats. 

Guard play was a major role in the 28 point victory. Guards Bernard Nugent, Maurice Mickens, and Ed Horton combined for 70 points in the win. Nugent led the Giants with 26 points on the night, while Mickens (23 points) and Horton (21 points) rounded out the top scorers for Jacksonville. 

The victory gives Jacksonville their fourth straight win and a 6-2 overall record heading into mid-January. The win also will help place Jacksonville high in the next batch of ABA Power Rankings, since the Giants had such a decisive victory over the third-ranked Wildcats. 

Horton helped lead Jacksonville early in the game, as the ABA veteran scored 11 first quarter points. Surprisingly, Mickens and Nugent were both held in check the first quarter, but eventually got things going later in the game. Mickens scored 14-second quarter points with Nugent adding nine. 

Jacksonville continued to pull away from Atlanta in the second half. The guard combinations were too much for the Wildcats. Jermaine Bell and Cedric McGowan also assisted in the scoring frenzy, as both players scored 13 points each. Defensively both Nugent and Bell were the standout players.