On the surface, the Grambling men’s basketball team seems like little threat to Southern’s four-game winning streak.
The Tigers are 0-11 for the third time in six years.
They have lost 10 of those 11 games by more than 20 points.
“I don’t even want to hear it,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “They’re going to be ready for us when we go up there.”
Without a doubt, the Tigers usually are.
Southern snapped an 11-game losing streak against Grambling on its rival’s home floor with a 57-53 win last year. But only after overcoming an early 16-0 deficit did the Jaguars rid themselves of the north Louisiana bugaboo.
The latest trip to the Hobdy Assembly Center comes with Southern riding high after knocking off preseason Southwestern Athletic Conference favorite Prairie View on Friday and only four games removed from a 53-51 upset of Texas A&M.
The Jaguars (8-6, 2-0) lead the SWAC with a scoring margin of plus-6.4 points. In fact, they are the only team in the league with a scoring margin on the plus side.
Meanwhile, Grambling (0-11, 0-2) has been outscored by a SWAC-worst 32.7 points per game.
Grambling’s closest game was its most recent, a 69-56 defeat at Alabama State after losing 78-53 to Alabama A&M in its conference opener.
But winning at Grambling has never been easy for Southern. Banks expects nothing different Sunday.
“If they don’t give anybody else their best shot, they’re going to give it to us and then some,” he said. “But I hope to do the same to them. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to give our best shot.”
Southern will likely be short-handed for the second straight game, as senior point guard Jameel Grace continues to work his way back from a sprained left shoulder. Grace suffered the injury in the second half of the SWAC opener when a Texas Southern defender landed on a shot-faking Grace and was whistled for a foul.
In his stead, freshman Christopher Hyder had nine points and four steals Friday in his first career start.
Banks said he was optimistic Grace could return — in a limited role — for Tuesday’s game at Jackson State.
“He won’t be 100 percent for a long time,” Banks said. “It’s going to come down to how much he can tolerate the pain.”
Junior Malcolm Miller, a South Plains Junior College transfer, has been Southern’s leading scorer in each of its first two SWAC games. He had 11 points Friday after scoring 26 points in the conference opener.
Grambling is led by freshman Terry Rose, who averages 16.2 points to rank fourth in the SWAC.