For the fourth consecutive year, the Florida Tech Panthers were crowned champions of the Florida Tech Thanksgiving classic, thanks to a dominating 97-77 win over Union. Jordan Majors led the Panthers with 30 points, followed by fellow senior Sam Daniel, who had 25 on 8-of-11 from the field and three of five from long distance. He also had seven rebounds.
“Those guys finish their Panther career 8-0 in the Thanksgiving tournament,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims of Majors and Daniel. “We could’ve had co-MVP’s tonight, but that’s the way it’s going to be all season.”
Majors was the one to take home the MVP trophy with his 30-point performance, including scoring the first 10 Panther points of the contest. Daniel did earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
“At the first media timeout My assistant Randy Echols handed me a stat sheet and I looked, I think we were up 10-4 and I said ‘I think Jordan’s got all 10 points’,” said Mims. I didn’t even know it.”
With the Panthers up 5-4, Majors hit his second three of the night 3:01 into the game and then had a layup on a fast-break, going into that timeout. That sparked an 18-0 run that saw the Panthers jump out to a 23-4 lead with 10:57 to go in the half. Richard Coil, Darius Wright, and Daniel kept the barrage of three-pointers going, to go up 33-11.
Majors and Daniel hit consecutive three’s for the Panthers to widen it to 39-13 and Michael Milligan got into the act, making it 42-16 with 5:52 to go. Union coach David Niven was hit with a technical foul with 2:23 to go after he thought an illegal screen should have been called on FIT. The Panthers would take a 52-28 lead into the locker room.
Majors finished the first half 7-of-13 from the field for 19 points and the Panthers shot 50 percent (18-of-36) overall, including 7-of-19 from three-point range. They were also 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. Pedro Da Silva finished the half with 12 points for the Bulldogs.
The Panthers (3-4) watched Puerto Rico Bayamon go on a 14-3 run to start the second half in Friday’s game, made sure that they didn’t see a repeat of that on Saturday. They continued to shoot well, scoring 13 of the first 20 points in the half, putting up 30, 65-35 with 15:11 to go in the game.
They would stretch that lead to 35 after a three by Valur Valsson with 9:25 to go and he promptly followed that with a steal, resulting in a Majors basket at the other end. It was one of two steals for Valsson, who finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. He gave the Panthers their largest lead of the night after he hit another three with 8:28 to go, giving the Panthers an 89-49 lead.
The Bulldogs (4-2) would score the final 11 points of the game, as the Panthers played their bench guys for the last few minutes, taking their foot off the gas pedal in a show of sportsmanship.
For more info: Union (TN) @ Florida Tech Box Score
Florida Tech has now won three in a row after dropping their first four, and they seem to be getting hot at the right time.
“Our first four games we played this year are the most brutal start in my 13 years at Florida Tech,” Mims said. “But we always knew this team had talent and once we got it going and guys recognized their roles, accepted their roles and they try to flourish within those roles, we’d get better and I truly believe this team has gotten better every time we’ve taken the floor and it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Panthers get back into Sunshine State Conference play Wednesday, taking on Lynn at home. They will follow that up Saturday, hosting Eckerd. Wednesday’s game against the Fighting Knights is scheduled for a 7:30 tip, but could start later depending on the women’s game that will be played prior to the men taking the floor.