Craig Porter Jr. leads team to win season opener


Baswanth Naidu / The Sunflower

Senior point gaurd Craig Porter Jr. driving to the bakset after sophomore gaurd Xavier Bell sets a screen for him against Central Arkansas on Nov. 7. Porter scored a single game career high of 22 points.

Senior point guard Craig Porter Jr. scored a single game career high of 22 points against Central Arkansas. 

The men’s team beat the Bears 79-55 on Nov. 7 at home. 

Porter said his success against Central Arkansas had to do with setting the pace of the game early.  He said strong defense, being smart with the basketball and opportunities to drive to the basket helped. 

“I know my team is going to rely on me a lot, so any way I can get off to a good start,” Porter said. “Sometimes, we tend to get off to a slow start, so really any way I can get us off to that good start that’s what I tend to want to do.” 

Head coach Isaac Brown said Porter took advantage of their opponent’s defense by realizing that the Bears were switching ball screens at the one through five position. 

“Sometimes, when you are playing teams that switch one through five, you have to start driving the basketball,” Brown said. 

The Shockers scored 22 points off of turnovers and 15 points off of fastbreaks. Despite a lack of rebounds on defense, senior forward Gus Okafor said he and his team made stops on defense so that Porter could make plays and open shots. 

“I feel like he was unstoppable tonight, and when he’s going at it, I’m just outside watching really,” Okafor said. 

Brown said Porter’s confidence on the court and ability to make plays was infectious in the Shockers win against the Bears. In addition to scoring in double figures, Porter dished out four assists, recorded one block, four rebounds and three steals. 

“Guys like playing with him because they know they are going to get the basketball,” Brown said. “Anytime he got the ball in his hands, guys want to run. They want to cut hard because they know he’ll get it to them.”

The Shockers will play Alcorn State at Charles Koch Arena on Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN+ and air on KEYN 103.7 with Mike Kennedy and Dave Dahl.