Free of the burden, Southern has settled in.
Morris Scott, in his first season as Southern’s coach, claimed his first road win at winless Mississippi Valley State on Monday. Southern out-slugged the Delta Devils toward a 78-70 overtime win, the Jaguars’ first victory outside of Louisiana in 12 tries.
Relieving for Scott? You bet.
“Yeah,” the coach said, “definitely.”
With the win, Southern improved to 6-13 and 2-4 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“It’s kind of going the way we expected,” Scott said.
“Of course, we wish we could be better off. We’ve been in games where we had leads, and we should’ve won those games. But those are the breaks and hopefully you just learn from them.”
The Jaguars split their most recent two-game road trip with Monday’s win following a two-point loss, also in overtime, at Arkansas-Pine Bluff last Saturday.
Though unplanned, the pair of overtime contests allowed the Jaguars to work on their execution late in close games. Since a 12-point loss at Texas Southern in the Jan. 1 SWAC opener, all three of Southern's conference losses have been decided by four points or fewer.
Monday’s win, Southern countered and corrected where it failed Saturday: Shut the door, secure the win.
“They locked in in overtime a little better than we have late in games,” Scott added. “Attention to detail, boxing out, rebounding the basketball. Then we came down … executed a little better on the offensive end. We took the shots that we should be taking instead of taking some uncharacteristic shots like sometimes we did in the past. We kind of panicked a little bit in the past … We did a much better job of doing that.”
Alabama State (3-14, 3-2 SWAC) enters the F.G. Clark Activity Center at 5:30 p.m. Saturday to begin a three-game homestand, Southern’s longest of the season.
“I could tell we learned from our mistakes on Saturday, and we kind of got better on Monday,” Scott said. “Hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Four in a row. Five of their last six.
Four consecutive double-digit wins, including one against the SWAC's former top team, Jackson State.
Plucked to finish fourth in October's preseason poll by the league's coaches and sports information directions, Southern's women appear to be proving doubters wrong.
The Jaguars enter Saturday’s 3 p.m. tipoff against Alabama State in first place.
Southern is the SWAC’s lone five-win team at 5-1 and has rolled to four straight wins against Grambling, Jackson State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State.
The Jaguars (6-9 overall) also remain the SWAC’s only team yet to lose at home, and that trend appears likely to continue Saturday. Alabama State is 0-8 on the road.
Southern center Sarai Blissett has missed the Jaguars’ past three wins with a knee injury she suffered Jan. 7, one day before Southern’s 86-76 win against Jackson State.
Meanwhile, star forward Briana Green has posted 10 consecutive games in double-figure scoring dating to Dec. 11. Shooting 48.6 percent from the field, Green is averaging a career-high 16.7 points through 15 games.
She, like Southern, has been red hot. And the SWAC hasn’t found a remedy for either.
"During the course of a game, she probably sees anywhere from four to seven different defenders every game from every different team that we’ve played trying to find an answer for her,” coach Sandy Pugh said. “There is no answer. When she executes at that elbow, she’s one of the best I’ve ever had at that position.”