BY HENRY MILLER
HIDALGO — For years, the RGV Vipers have been known for their offensive arsenal. They are on pace to lead the G League in scoring once again.
Saturday’s game didn’t do anything to hurt those chances.
The Vipers scored a franchise-record 50 points in the second quarter and ended up just four points from breaking their all-time single-game scoring record in a 157-134 win over the Memphis Hustle at State Farm Arena. RGV won its second straight game and improved to 17-9 on the season.
Demetrius Jackson led all scorers with 26 points in his return after missing two-plus weeks while being called up with the Houston Rockets.
“He had a big game against Texas before he left for Houston,” Vipers coach Matt Brase said. “He was great again tonight with the basketball, and his rhythm wasn’t off at all.
Seven Vipers scored in double digits. Following Jackson was Tony Wroten and Zhou Qi with 21 each, Isaiah Hartenstein with 20, R.J. Hunter and Monte Morris with 19 and Tyler Lydon with 13.
The franchise scoring record is 160 points, set on Jan. 18, 2015, against Reno.
“We are a very good team. It’s a special team — a lot of talent here,” Wroten said. “When we are playing like this, with Monte and R.J. and D.J. and the rest, it’s hard to corral us all.”
The inside combination of 7-foot-1 Zhou, 7-foot Hartenstein and 6-foot-10 Lydon dominated the boards, especially in the first half. The trio combined for 31 rebounds. Memphis had 42 as a team.
“Our bigs were cleaning it up for us,” Jackson said. “When they are doing that, it makes it easier for us on both ends. On offense, we know we can go to the hole, and they will clean up our mistakes or misses. And on defense, it allows us to get up on ball pressure a little more, knowing they are there to support us.”
The game was played at the fast and furious pace the Vipers are known for. RGV shot 56 percent from the floor and connected on 21 of 40 3-pointers (53.5 percent).
“We just played fast and kept pushing every chance we had,” Jackson said. “That was the big thing, the pace of the game. We were kicking it. It felt just natural. We would be able to give the guys opportunities, and they were decisive. That’s all there is to it.”
The Vipers tallied 35 assists in the game, led by Morris with 13.
Memphis opened the third quarter with a flurry, scoring 11 straight points within the quarter’s first 90 seconds to close to within 15, 83-68. Following a timeout, RGV countered with a 9-2 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Hunter and Julien Lewis, plus a 3-point play from Monte Morris to push the lead past the 20-point mark at 92-70.
A little more than halfway through the third quarter, Memphis again closed the gap, this time to 11 at 107-96. Hunter responded with five straight points on a 3-pointer and a layup, and Jackson scored on a step-back baseline 3-pointer and a driving basket in the lane to push the lead to 21, 117-96. Memphis never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.
“We just needed to take a quick timeout there and regain focus,” Brase said. “Having a 20-point lead in this league doesn’t mean much. It was a good first half with 87 points on the board. We had good depth and have a good roster right now. We had a team mindset today, as well. If you think team first, individual successes will come.”
Jordan Crawford led Memphis with 24 points and seven assists.