HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) T.J. Bickerstaff had 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead No. 20 James Madison to a 82-65 victory against Texas State on Saturday to stay undefeated.

Terrence Edwards added 17 points and Noah Freidel 11 for the Dukes (13-0, 1-0 Sun Belt).

Coleton Benson scored all 19 of his points in the second half and Kaden Gumbs had 14 points with five rebounds and three assists for the Bobcats (6-7, 0-1).

“This JMU team just kind of reminds me of a really, really good boxer,” Texas State coach Terrence Johnson said. “They have multiple styles, whether or not they are counterpunchers or coming out throwing haymakers. They pick their spot to knock you out. When they get a lead on you, man, it’s extremely difficult to come back.”

The Bobcats scored the game’s opening bucket before James Madison responded with a 13-2 run sparked by a pair of Julien Wooden 3-pointers to grab a lead five minutes in. The Dukes led by eight with eight minutes to go in the first half after a steal and layup by Raekwon Horton.

But the Bobcats chipped away and got back within one late in the first half on a 3-pointer by Gumbs. Bickerstaff made tough plays in the paint as JMU extended the lead to double digits, but Gumbs beat the buzzer before halftime to cut the Dukes' lead to 36-28 at the break.

Bickerstaff came out hot to open the second half, and JMU scored six quick points to grab its biggest lead to that point. The Bobcats went nearly six minutes without scoring as JMU took a 51-30 lead eight minutes into the second period.

“The goal was to go 1-0 in the Sun Belt,” JMU coach Mark Byington said. “That’s a challenging team to play coming back from Christmas break and our guys knew it. They got us here last year and I think that helped. We had great practices coming in and we were focused. I think that got us off to good start, knowing that if we didn’t play well that team could beat us.”

Gumbs continued to make big plays for the Bobcats, who got back within 13 midway through the second. But Bickerstaff was too much for Texas State to handle. The Boston College transfer got another transition dunk and JMU extended its lead to 27 points after back-to-back 3s from Michael Green and Edwards.


James Madison improved to 13-0 for the first time in program history, increasing the nation’s longest winning streak and the longest streak ever at JMU. The Dukes opened up conference play with a victory before heading on what could be their toughest road trip of the Sun Belt schedule, with games at Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Miss.

The Bobcats had back-to-back games against two of the three undefeated Division I teams remaining in the nation heading into Saturday. The visit to JMU followed a 72-37 loss at No. 3 Houston.


James Madison remained ranked No. 20 for nearly all of December, after crawling into the polls for the first time ever following a season-opening victory at Michigan State.


Texas State: Returns to San Marcos, Texas, to play Coastal Carolina on Thursday.

James Madison: Travels to face Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday.


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