PHOENIX (WAVY) — The Norfolk State men’s basketball team is now 8-1, their greatest start to a season since moving to Division I, after a pair of wins in Chris Paul’s inaugural HBCU Challenge in Phoenix.
Spartan big man Kris Bankston had 20 points, tying his career high, and 10 rebounds to lead the Spartans to a 70-63 win over Grambling on Monday night. Bankston shot 70% from the floor on Monday and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line. He’s shooting 78.3% from the field this season.
The redshirt senior transfer from Little Rock also scored 18 the night before in the first game of the challenge against longtime local rival Hampton, a 70-61 win. All of the games at the new tournament at the Footprint Center (home of the Suns and Mercury) were aired on ESPN networks, as Paul seeks to bring more exposure to HBCUs.
The Spartans will now go on the road for seven straight games, with marquee matchups against Wichita State (Dec. 11), Loyola Chicago (Dec. 19) and a rematch with Hampton (Saturday, Dec. 4).
The Spartans were picked to win the MEAC this year after winning the conference championship over Morgan State last spring. They picked up a win in the NCAA Tournament against Appalachian State before falling to tournament runner-up Gonzaga.
WAVY News 10/FOX43 Sports Anchor and Reporter Craig Loper caught up with 9th year head coach Robert Jones and some of the players to talk about what’s been the key to the hot start to the season and how the team is shaping up.