Posted: Jan 04, 2020
FORT MYERS, Fla.- A season ago as a freshman, Keon Ellis laid in the shadows of a pair of First Team All-Conference guards in Charles Manning Jr. and Maddox Daniels. As a sophomore this season, he has become the Bucs undisputed leader and Saturday in #3 Florida SouthWestern's Suncoast Conference opener against St. Petersburg, that was on full display as he exploded for a school record 41 points to lead the Bucs over the Titans 92-77 to give FSW their 27th straight conference victory.
Ellis got things going early on, connecting from beyond the arc two minutes in to give the Bucs an early 8-3 lead. After St. Pete cut the FSW lead to two at the 14 minute mark, the Bucs went on a 9-1 run, holding the Titans without a field goal for over four minutes to stretch their lead to 19-9 at the midway point of the first half. Jermaine Marshall then took over a 2:30 stretch for the Bucs, scoring eight straight for the Purple and Aqua to push their lead to 27-11. A shorthanded St. Petersburg group didn't roll over though, trimming the Bucs lead back to single digits with under five minutes to go in the half before FSW pushed it back to 10 before the break at 40-30.
Both sides struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first as the Bucs shot just 38% while holding the Titans to 36%. Ellis led all scorers with 13 first half points while Marshall dialed up 10 points and 8 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of action.
The Bucs put the game away early in the second half, scoring the first 13 points of the period to balloon their lead to 53-30 in the blink of an eye. With 11:20 to go and the Bucs leading 58-45, Ellis took over. A pair of free throws started the Bucs star on an incredible run that would see him score 24 points over the final 11 minutes of the game. A jumper gave him 21 in the game and back to back threes pushed his total to 27 in no time. Another Ellis three stretched the FSW lead back to 20 with 8:04 to go and a pair of free throws with 1:43 remaining tied his career high with 36 while capping a 6-0 FSW lead to give them an 87-71 lead. With fate on his side, St. Petersburg took a shot with 36 seconds remaining on the game clock and the Bucs cleared the boards, forcing them to have to take a final shot with the big lead to avoid a shot clock violation. There was no doubt who that shot was going to come from. Ellis knifed through the Titan defense as he had all night, eventually pulling up for an off balance three pointer which found nothing but the bottom of the net, breaking Tyler Cheese's program record with 41 points while finishing off a 92-77 win for the Bucs.
Ellis needed just 22 shots to score his 41 points, going 14-22 from the field including 6-10 from three point land, while also going a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Overshadowed by Ellis' big night was a 16 point, 5 assist day from Jalen Finch and a 12 point, 13 rebound double-double from Marshall.
The 3rd ranked Bucs win their 10th straight, improving to 17-1 overall on the year while collecting their 27th straight Suncoast Conference victory. St. Petersburg sees their 2019-2020 record even up at 9-9 while losing their conference opener.
FSW will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Tampa to take on Hillsborough in a 7:30 tip.