HOUSTON — Just one game into the Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule, the Southern men’s basketball team’s depth and size are being tested.
As Texas Southern rained down 13 3-pointers in an 88-66 win Saturday at H&PE Arena, there weren’t many places the Jaguars could look for help.
With regular starter D’Adrian Allen out with an ankle injury, Southern used a seven-man rotation that only had two players taller than 6-foot-4.
Defensively, the Jaguars struggled defending TSU around the horn, and many of the missed baskets turned into offensive rebounds and easy putbacks.
“The irony is now we start Tony Nunn because D’Adrian is hurt, so we get real small real quick,” coach Roman Banks said. “We need to learn to be more intense, and we need to get more from our bench. Now we just have to figure out how we are going to do that.”
The Jaguars (8-6, 0-1) will get another opportunity Monday against Prairie View (0-13, 0-1), which lost 73-70 to Alcorn State on Saturday.
Five Jaguars reached double digits Saturday, but beyond 10 points from Chris Thomas, the bench was nonexistent. Shawn Prudhomme, who led the Jaguars in scoring in three of the previous nine games, took only one shot and didn’t score a point Saturday.
“We have a lot of new guys, and I don’t think they understood the magnitude of this game,” Banks said. “We only have a few guys that have played in this rivalry, and I don’t know that the others know what is at stake. This isn’t an ordinary basketball game. But we played ordinary, and they played extraordinary. They played how they are supposed to play.”
Texas Southern shot 50 percent from the field and made 13-of-27 shots from 3-point range. Four Tigers made at least three 3-pointers, and David Blanks served many of them up with a triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists).
The Jaguars were only 3-of-14 from 3-point range after entering the game leading the conference in scoring. No Jaguars player scored more than 14 points or made more than one 3-pointer.
SU was outrebounded 47-30, which turned into lots of second-chance points for the Tigers, who have beaten the Jaguars five straight times.
“We have to take this and learn a lesson from it,” junior guard Trelun Banks said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It is a big rivalry. We just need to take it, learn from our mistakes and we will see them again.”
For now, the focus will shift to Prairie View, which is led by forward Admassu Williams and guard Tevin Bellinger, who each average 11.5 points. Zachary Hamilton scored a season-high 31 points — including six 3-pointers — on Saturday against Alcorn.
The winless Panthers have lost 11 games by double-digit margins, including losses of 31 at Nebraska and 41 at Houston.
Southern just hopes to get back on track after its impressive preconference performance.
“I think that we all know where we can get better,” Roman Banks said. “You just have to look at the film and try to see how you can get better with your guys and carry it over.”