11/26/11 — Saints Thanksgiving Classic -- Outlaw has career outing for Southern Wayne

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Saints Thanksgiving Classic -- Outlaw has career outing for Southern Wayne

By Ty Johnson
Published in Sports on November 26, 2011 11:04 PM

DUDLEY -- A first half dominated by James Kenan's superb frontcourt play gave way to a second half in which Southern Wayne's perimeter shooting couldn't be stopped in the Saints' 80-70 consolation-game victory in the 2011 Saints Thanksgiving Classic.

The Tigers' down low duo of Jeremy Smith and Michael Moore led the team in scoring for the second straight night, but some second-half adjustments and a focus on post defense during recent practices allowed the Saints' defense to bottle the big men up in the second half.

"We worked on fronting the post because we knew they would have the size advantage," Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens said. "They're one of the better players we'll see this year and we knew they would score, we just didn't want them to have career nights.

"We wanted to make some other guys hit some shots."

Moore poured in 21 points while Smith had 26, though James Kenan's guards couldn't get the ball inside during the second half.

"Our guard play wasn't what we would have liked," Tigers head coach Jeff Lane said.

But while the visiting team struggled in the backcourt, Saints guard Ronell Outlaw became the man to watch as he nailed 10 three-pointers -- including three in consecutive possessions -- on his way to a game- and career-high 35 points.

"They were doing a good job on him at times," Stephens said. "But we were getting him the ball."

Lane attributed Outlaw's ability to find open shots to a lack of focus from his defenders.

"I think we got a little complacent -- not fighting shooters," he said, adding that perhaps a timeout during Outlaw's hot streak may have cooled him down. "We went to a 2-3 zone and just lost him."

A scrappy first half saw both teams scoring in runs, though James Kenan (0-2) appeared to have the upper hand early.

The Saints (2-1) were able to capitalize at the free throw line, however, and kept pace with the Tigers. The fouls began to add up for the visitors and Lane found himself having to sit players early in the second quarter.

"We dug ourselves a hole because of some foul trouble in the first half," he said.

Three-pointers from Outlaw keyed the Saints' second-quarter run, which ended with Andrew Matthews driving the lane to tie the game at 35 on a layup just before the half.

A dunk by the Tigers' Moore brought his team to within nine at 59-50 with just less than three minutes left, but James Kenan went scoreless from the field to end the third quarter and trailed 64-54. The Saints got good production from Outlaw during that run, as he hit five of his 10 three pointers during the third quarter.

James Kenan got to within seven twice during the fourth quarter, but Southern Wayne's guard play again emerged as the difference, as the Saints leaned on ball control to run the clock out and get the win.

The two teams will meet again Tuesday in Dudley.