The stage was set in Abilene. After a two-game road trip to start the college basketball season, the Abilene Christian men’s basketball came was home. Back in the beautifully renovated Moody Coliseum in front of an announced crowd of 1,895 fans ready for a win.
However, on Tuesday night, there was no Moody Magic.
Chris Felix Jr. had a game-high 25 points to lead Prairie View A&M to a shocking 79-74 win inside Moody Coliseum. The upset spoiled the home opener for ACU.
The visiting Prairie View A&M Panthers brought a short bench with them on their five hour drive north west. However, all eight eligible players were ready to play. A hard fought battle took place inside Moody Coliseum Tuesday night. Fouls, tough shots and a combined 63 free throw attempts. You get the point.
Wildcats Slowly Get the Kinks Out
The first-half wasn’t exactly the prettiest bit of ACU basketball folks have seen inside Moody Coliseum. ACU picked up a quick 7-4 lead in the opening minutes of action. However, the Wildcats lost their lead at the 13:27 mark as the Panthers took their first lead of the game.
The Wildcats were able to battle back with some Hunter Jack Madden 3-pointers and eight key points off of the bench from D-II transfer Nasir DeGruy. As ACU began to put the scoring pieces together, they were able to take back the lead and hold it against the no quit Panthers.
The first-half was scrappy and foul heavy, with 20 total called between both programs. Prairie View A&M took advantage, knocking down all 16 of their free throw attempts to stay in this road matchup.
As the half-time buzzer sounded, ACU entered the locker rooms with a 37-35 lead.
Shorthanded Panthers outplay Wildcats
To head on the road down four players and only eight others to play is a tall task for any team. The Prairie View A&M Panthers were up for the task. Byron Smith’s team played fast and hard all night long, netting 22 points off of turnovers and 18 fast break points.
The attack was spearheaded by D-II transfer Andre Nunley, who had his best game in a Panther uniform. Fellow newcomer Chris Felix Jr. had a monster night with 25 points, 6 rebounds on 7-13 shooting from the floor, 2-2 from deep & 9-10 from the line.
Prairie View A&M just looked ready to play basketball Tuesday night. Not a perfect brand of basketball but one that gave them the win to take back home as they head on a five-game road trip.
ACU-G Hunter Jack Madden
The Australian may have been responsible for the biggest fumble of the game. As the game clock counted down to zero, a play was drawn up to place the Wildcats best shooter nearly wide open in the upper corner to knock down a triple and take this one into overtime. Instead, the ball went right through his fingers.
Still, one play doesn’t downplay the offensive reliability Madden brought to the floor Tuesday. The 6-2 shooting guard chipped in 14 points, five rebounds and knocked down four triples. For a Wildcat squad that struggled to create offense back and forth all night, Madden is a near sure thing from deep.
Prairie View A&M-G Andre Nunley
The D-II transfer from nearby Angelo State was a consistent factor in the Panthers offensive attack. Especially when other scoring options went cold. The 5’10 point guard logged 10 points in the first-half and a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe while doing so.
After coming into this contest averaging just 2.7 points, 2.3 assists in 16.1 minutes per game in the Panther’s first three contests, Nunley was thrust into the starting lineup once again and showed up big time. Dropping 22 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and nabbing 4 steals in 36 minutes on the floor while shooting a perfect 12-12 from the line.
Tuesday was a learning moment for Abilene Christian. Never underestimate an opponent. Now, the Wildcats hit the road and head to the US Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. ACU takes on San Jose State in the first matchup on Friday.
The Wildcats (1-2, 0-0 in WAC) first game on Friday November 15th can be streamed on ESPN+ at 3:15 p.m. CT.
Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.