LEVELLAND — Sophomore forward Yuot Gai scored in double figures for the third consecutive game as the top-ranked South Plains College men's basketball team cruised to an 87-65 conference home win over New Mexico Military Institute Saturday afternoon at the Texan Dome.
The Texans improve to 16-0 on the year and 11-0 in the WJCAC and will be back on the floor on Thursday when they host Midland College at 7:30 p.m. on sophomore night at the Texan Dome.
"I thought Val and Yuot both played well," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "Val blocked three or four shots and is coming on at the right time. Yuot is getting better, and anytime that happens is a good thing. He has continued to get better, and he's become one of our most consistent players because we know what he's going to do every game."
South Plains jumped out to a 38-23 lead at the half as Rivaldo Soares netted 11 points in the first half for the Texans who shot a 41 percent clip from the field in the first 20 minutes. The Broncos were flustered offensively throughout the contest, shooting just 25 percent at the break.
"We got off to a good start and built an enormous lead," Green said. "Then we got out of what got us to that point, and had some turnovers and missed some shots. They had too many transition baskets, and we would score on one end and before you know it they're already down at the other end. We have to get back on defense, and that's something we need to improve on."
South Plains would continue to pour it on in the second half, shooting 51.5 percent in the final stint, knocking down seven 3s in the back half. Gai finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds over 27 minutes, dropping in 7 of 12 shots from the field. Soares netted 16 points on 7 of 14 shooting while Myron Gardner had 11 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
Benjamin Bayela posted 11 points and five rebounds, bucketing 4 of 10 shots from the floor while Philmon Gebrewhit tallied 10 points, six assists and four rebounds. Sophomore big man Jevonnie Scott netted seven points and six rebounds as the Texans scored 44 points in the paint and received 29 points from their bench.
"Phil has been big all year," Green said. "I just told Phil, 'if you miss nine in a row and I still have you out there on the floor and you're open for a shot I expect you to shoot it. And when you make it, consider yourself hot.'"