Men’s basketball opens season with balanced road win against Drake

Saturday was a special day for men’s head basketball coach Chris Jans.

Not only did he win his first game as the Falcons head coach, but he was able to do it in his home state and in front of what he said was more than 200 people there to support him.

Despite all of that excitement friends and family described him as relaxed he said.

“I took a lot of advice from friends and family. Most of it was ‘Hopefully you are going to be doing this for a while’ and enjoy it,” Jans said. “I wanted to enjoy the experience.”

All of that was put aside once the whistle blew and from there it became just basketball.

“Once you get into the flow you just coach your team,” Jans said.

The Falcons 77-58 win against Drake Saturday marked their first season opening road win in almost two decades. They had 12 players score and four players score in double digits. Jehvon Clarke led the Falcons with 16 points off the bench. Richaun Holmes followed him with 13 points and a game-high five blocks.

“We have a lot of talent on the team and Coach Jans does a great job of putting different people in positions to be successful,” Holmes said. “Everybody knows their job within the system and we just try to go out there and try to be aggressive.”

The depth of the Falcons, which has been talked about all offseason, stood out against the Bulldogs as their bench had 45 of their 77 points. Led by Clarke’s 16, Jovan Austin also came off the bench with 10 points of his own. Those 45 points outscored Drake’s bench by 32.

“[Jans system] allows us to show our true abilities on and off the ball,” Clarke said. “It’s a great system for the type of players that we have.”

While the bench made a large difference in the game, the starters were the ones who got the Falcons on the board early and often.

Holmes started the game with a jumper on their first possession. That 2-0 lead would expand and expand, as the Falcons would never trail in the game.

An Austin jump shot seven minutes into the first half gave the Falcons their first double digit lead of the game.

“It’s very important for us to get out to a good start. Coach Jans always says ‘it’s easier to play from ahead than behind,’” Holmes said. “We always want to come out with energy, get a good start and put ourselves in a position to win early.”

The Falcons would go on a 12-1 run late in the first half giving them a 45-26 lead with one minute left in the first half. They would go into halftime leading 47-31 and never look back.

Drake cut the lead to 16 with 11:58 to go in the second half.

That is the closest they would get as the Falcons responded with seven straight points of their own, pushing their lead right back to 23.

From there the Falcons walked to their first win of the season, shooting 51 percent from the field, including 40 percent from behind the three-point arc.

The Falcons will be back in action Nov. 19 in their home opener against Wright State: tip-off is set for 4 p.m.