Entering matchup with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southern’s defense leads the way in the SWAC _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University Jaguars head coach Roman Banks and players on the bench applaud after Southern University Jaguars forward Keith Davis (4) makes two free throws after being fouled by Texas Southern Tigers forward Jason Carter (23), Monday, Jan. 5, at the F.G. Clark Center on Southern's campus in Baton Rouge

The Southern men’s basketball team came up just short in its last-second 59-58 loss to Texas Southern on Monday night.

But along the way, the Jaguars might have found something important.

They trailed by two points about five minutes into the second half Monday when Trelun Banks threw the ball inside to Keith Davis, who made a layup.

Moments later, Davis got free for another layup, then he got fouled and made two free throws. He made another layup, then two baskets from inside the lane.

Over the course of a nearly eight-minute span, Davis scored all of Southern’s 12 points and kept the Jaguars within striking distance. Though his 13 points for the game weren’t enough to prevent the loss, they did provide some inside-outside offensive balance, which has been a work in progress for a team with virtually no experience in its front court.

“Talking to coach (Roman Banks) at halftime, he said that was what I had to do in order to help my team,” Davis said. “I had to get into some kind of rhythm.”

Banks said the key now is to see Davis and the front court carry over that effectiveness when Southern (4-12 and 1-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) visits Grambling (2-10 and 0-2) on Saturday. Tip-off is 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on WYNK-FM-97.7.

“We have to play a couple of games and see our consistency,” Banks said. “We’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on (low-post scoring) in practice and only time will tell how consistent we are with that.”

Davis, who played two seasons at Texas A&M then sat out last season as a transfer, is averaging 6.3 points, most among members of the Jaguars’ front court. The team’s three leading scorers are guards Tre Lynch (13.4), Adrian Rodgers (12.5) and Trelun Banks (11.0).

In addition to Davis, Jared Sam (5.1) and Frank Snow (4.0) have added periodic scoring from the inside.

Southern is 0-10 on the road, but is facing its first conference opponent away from the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

“People tend to look at Grambling as not doing well and having a new coach (Shaun Walker), but this is a rivalry basketball game,” coach Banks said. “Their first five is pretty good.

“I think if you don’t go in there mentally prepared you can set yourself up for a letdown. It’ll be interesting to see how we play against a rivalry team.”

Davis said he too is curious to see how the Jaguars perform in their first conference road game. They won both meetings last season – 73-49 at home and 104-54 on the road.

“This will be a test,” Davis said, “to see if we can win on the road.”

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.