HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Southern men’s basketball coach Roman Banks picked Alabama A&M to finish among the top four teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs hadn’t played that way this season, but they certainly did Monday night.
Jacob Perry scored a career-high 28 points and Ladarius Tabb finished with 20 as A&M downed Southern 78-66 at Elmore Gymnasium.
“I talked to the team about A&M and the fact that this team has it in them to turn it on,” Banks said. “This team is not what their record is. We happened to be the victim of them turning it on (Monday night).”
The loss, Southern’s second straight, dropped the Jaguars to 18-10 overall and 10-5 in league play. A&M improved to 9-14 and 5-9.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for much of the first half, and Southern led 27-25 after Adrian Rodgers threw down a dunk with just under four minutes left in the half. However, A&M responded and closed the half with a 15-3 run, thanks in large part to nine big points by Perry, including a 3-pointer as time expired, to give the Bulldogs a 40-30 lead at intermission.
“(Perry) wasn’t one of their main guys, but he hit a couple of shots early, and that gave him some confidence,” Southern’s Christopher Hyder said. “It was his night, and he helped his team win. We normally slow people down, but tonight we didn’t do that. I’ll take credit for that, being a senior. This whole road trip we weren’t ready to play.”
The Jaguars pulled within five at 41-36 almost two minutes into the second half, but the Bulldogs turned it on again.
Perry scored 12 points during a 23-10 run to give A&M a commanding 65-48 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Southern never got closer than the final score the rest of the way.
“Jacob was fantastic,” A&M coach Willie Hayes said. “If we had played like this all year, we would be among the top teams in the league.”
Rodgers led Southern with 18 points, but he was only 6-of-17 from the field. Hyder finished with 15 points. The Jaguars shot 43 percent from the field, were 16-of-29 from the foul line and were outrebounded 34-25.
“It’s all about toughness,” Rodgers said. “Rebounding, 50-50 balls, second-chance points … all of those things we can correct. We’ve learned little things really matter.”
Banks said Southern has time to work some kinks before tournament time.
“We didn’t match their energy,” he said. “They outrebounded us by almost 10, and we allowed them to shoot 50 percent from the field. They made shots. I thought we were right there, but they made some tough shots … some of them with the shot clock winding down.
“Give them credit. We shot ourselves in the foot with some communication issues. We missed some assignments and gave them some good looks. But we’re not going to panic. We’re going to go back to work and find what we need to do to get things turned around. We’re going to attack this with a sense of urgency.”
Southern visits Alcorn State on Saturday night.
Bus ride to Alcorn State
The Southern Quarterback Club is providing a bus trip to the Jaguars basketball games at Alcorn State on Saturday.
The cost is $30 per ticket. The bus leaves the Southern campus at 9 a.m. and returns immediately after the games.
The women play at 3 p.m., and the men play approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s game.
For information, call (225) 939-5906 or (225) 572-5878.