Florida A&M guard MJ Randolph scored a game-high 21 points in a 76-63 win over Fort Valley State Wednesday evening inside the Lawson Center.
The Rattlers snapped a three-game losing streak and improved 2-4.
"I'm happy with the win and happy to be back home. Overall, we didn't play as well as we expected. There were some things we did well. The fact that we forced as many turnovers is a bright spot," FAMU men's basketball head coach Robert McCullum said.
Fort Valley State gave a valiant effort early in the first half.
It trailed 11-10 with just over 14 minutes on the clock.
However, FAMU ignited a spark behind forcing turnovers and scoring in transition.
The Rattlers cracked a double-figure lead when Bryce Morange converted on a 3-point play. His foul shot made the score 29-18 near the four-minute mark.
They pushed the score out to as many as 25 points early in the second half. Eventually, FAMU eased its intensity with the game well out of reach.
KJ Doucet and Davon Cottle scored 13 points apiece to pace Fort Valley State.
With this loss, the Wildcats fall to 1-6.
Listed below are the key takeaways from FAMU's victory on its home floor.
1. Still too early to gauge measuring stick
With just six games under their belt, it's still too early to gauge where this Rattlers team stands.
FAMU has talent around the arc and inside the paint. However, it hasn't squared up against an evenly matched opponent to apply a measuring stick.
The two wins for the Rattlers were against Divison II schools. LeMoyne-Owen and Fort Valley State are both from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
Their losses were to a combo of Power 5 and mid-majors.
FAMU's return home was a welcome treat. Last week's travel itinerary was a jet-lagged coast-to-coast trip. The Rattlers played at Miami, UTEP and Cal-Riverside.
Next week will be a keynote game for FAMU.
Florida Gulf Coast comes to Tallahassee on Tuesday. The Eagles are 6-3. They host Dartmouth on Saturday as a precursor to this matchup.
2. Rattlers 'steal' the show against the Wildcats
FAMU and Fort Valley State were relatively neck-and-neck in this contest. It won the shooting battle 50%-45% and rebounding edge 31-30.
The tipping point was the number of steals. FAMU had 14 steals to Fort Valley State's six. Overall, the Wildcats had 26 turnovers compared to 11 by the Rattlers.
These totals were pleasing to McCullum. However, he was disappointed in the perimeter defense.
Fort Valley State hit on 40% from behind the arc.
"It's a new season. But last year, we were top-10 in the nation in 3-point field goal defense. They shot 40% tonight (Wednesday). It's human nature that when you have you're opponent beat, you give up a little bit," McCullum said.
FAMU and FGCU will meet for the third time on Dec. 7. The Rattles are 0-2 in the previous games.
This is also the first encounter between the schools in Tallahassee.
FGCU won 65-56 on Nov. 25, 2020 in Fort Myers. It posted a 77-68 victory on Dec. 22, 2013 in Las Vegas.
Follow FAMU beat writer Rory Sharrock on Twitter @married2game1.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: What we learned: Randolph nets 21 to pace FAMU to 76-63 win vs. Fort Valley State