HOUSTON — The Southern men’s basketball team proved size was no obstacle to erasing a 15-point second-half deficit at Prairie View on Thursday night.
The Jaguars used a smaller lineup of four guards — led by Christopher Hyder’s career night — to eke out a gutsy road win 77-73.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the Jaguars will visit a Texas Southern team that also has relied heavily on its guards.
The Tigers (18-12, 15-2) won their third Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season championship in five years Thursday when they beat Alcorn State 94-73. Two 6-foot-1 guards — Madarious Gibbs and Deverell Biggs — each scored 21 points in the victory. A third guard — David Blanks — added 15 as the Tigers scored a season-high 94 points on 63.5 shooting.
Southern (16-15, 13-4) will counter with Hyder, Adrian Rodgers, Trelun Banks and Tre Lynch in the backcourt.
“I think we play better with four guards on the floor,” Trelun Banks said. “We feed off of each other, and it makes it a lot easier. We know what everyone can do, and that helps. We are better in transition. When you grab a rebound, we just get it and go.”
Southern did that Thursday out of necessity.
Big men Keith Davis and Frank Snow were in foul trouble and fellow big man Jared Sam was limited to 2 minutes because of a sprained ankle.
“Jared really wasn’t there because he hasn’t done anything in a while,” coach Roman Banks said. “(The ankle) is not going to be well for the rest of the season. We just need to get to a point where he can manage it.
“We went small, but when Keith and Frank came in, they did a good job, got it together and really helped us out.”
Southern will take anything it can get from the frontcourt, but its fortunes at the moment rely on the backcourt.
“Hyde and Banks do a lot for this team,” Roman Banks said. “They are small, but they play big, and it showed again (against Prairie View). Even if they only score five points, they mean a lot by the other stuff they do.”
The Jaguars will need them to rise even higher against TSU, winners of seven straight and 10 of 11.
Southern can move up to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a win and an Alabama State loss. The Jaguars will be no lower than the No. 3 seed.
“We need that win to go into the tournament with a little more confidence,” Hyder said. “Texas Southern will be a good challenge for us.”
Three of Southern’s four losses have come against TSU and Alabama State. All three games went to down to the final buzzer.
The Jaguars are hoping for a different finish this time around.
“I believe in this team,” Roman Banks said. “If we get that win, we will go into the tournament on a roll.”