VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State's men's basketball held its first opponent not named Puerto Rico de Cayey under 40 points and walked away with a 65-36 win over West Alabama Saturday at The Complex.
The win, the seventh in a row for the nation's No. 9 team, keeps the Blazers (16-1, 5-0 Gulf South) in sole possession of first place in the Gulf South East Division.
Most importantly, it sets up a battle for first against Montevallo, 4-1 in the East, at 8 p.m. Monday in The Complex. Montevallo beat West Florida, 78-51, Saturday to move within a game of the Blazers.
Montevallo led the game, 47-19, at the half.
"I think coach thought we might let down because we've got a big game coming up Monday," said Blazers' point guard Jerrod Jones, who had six points and four steals Saturday. "But we didn't."
Jones was being kind. His Blazers stymied the visiting Tigers' offense, holding West Alabama to just 30 percent shooting from the field.
The 36 points scored by the Tigers was one point shy of tying the season low against the Blazers' defense. Puerto Rico de Cayey scored 35 in the third game of the season last November.
"I think that's the best defense we've played against any opponent," Blazers' head coach Jim Yarbrough said after coaching in game No. 100 for him at Valdosta State. "Our defense was good enough to give us a big lead and then we ran out and worn them down in the second half."
The Blazers led 30-15 at halftime and then started the second half on a 13-4 run to increase their advantage to 43-19 with 12:16 remaining.
Marcus Ghent was Valdosta State's only double-digit scorer with 13 points, but for the second consecutive game all 14 Blazers got minutes on the floor.
"We got to play a lot of people tonight, which I think is very important in this league," Yarbrough said. "You've got to have legs for that Monday night game."
The Blazers shot 49 percent from the floor and got 37 points from its bench, compared to only 15 for West Alabama (3-15, 0-5 Gulf South).
Jon Rogers made the most of his 16 minutes on the floor, adding seven points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for Valdosta State. Every player on the Valdosta State dress list scored except for Ernest Scott, the Blazers second leading scorer.
West Alabama had no players score in double-figures. Cliff Mathis led the Tigers with eight points. He also led them at halftime with eight points.
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