PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona Suns opened their inaugural season in the only way they would have wanted to: with a win.
It was the NAZ Suns first ever game, but it didn’t look like it as they got an early lead and never looked back, winning 122-107 over the Iowa Energy at the Prescott Valley Event Center Saturday night.
Two Suns players scored at least 20 points, as Shaquille Harrison led all scorers with 22 and Elijah Millsap came away with 20. Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. was just behind them as he finished with 19 points, but he provided just as much entertainment for the 2,345 fans in attendance as he had high-flying dunk after dunk.
“Derrick Jones has the ability to really change the entire momentum with just one play, and he did that,” Suns head coach Ty Ellis said. “Derrick Jones; the kid is 19 and with a ceiling with no cap. He made some mistakes, but the good thing about it is when I coached him, he said ‘Yes sir, no sir’ and so that’s more encouraging than the dunks.”
Of Jones’ 19 points, 11 of those were in the fourth quarter.
“I talked with my teammates at halftime and I knew me, that first half, that wasn’t how I play. They told me I needed to go out and play ball, and so I went out and played hard and just attacked around the rim,” Jones said. “If I saw someone in front of me or not, I was going for that rim. That’s the only thing my eyes were on was the rim.”
Kalin Lucas led the way for the Energy with his 18 points, which included nine in the final frame. Six players from Iowa scored in double figures, including three off the bench. Former Kansas Jayhawk Wayne Selden Jr. was among the reserves to score 10-plus points, as he finished with 16.
The Energy are now 0-2 to start the year, playing back-to-back games on the road with Friday night’s loss coming in Los Angeles.
Johnny O’Bryant will look to remain a force for the Suns when they get set to take on the Salt Lake City Stars on the road on Friday. The newcomer who was just claimed by the Suns the day before their season opener scored 16 points.