Before a second had even ticked off the game clock, Southern University was trailing Spring Hill by two points. The Jaguars were penalized two free throws for having a malfunctioning shot clock above one goal, and Spring Hill guard Todd Martin made both shots.
Less than three minutes later, Southern regained the lead — one it would not relinquish as it cruised to a 67-46 win Friday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
The Jaguars (6-6) have won two straight and five of six as they close out their nonconference schedule and prepare for Southwestern Athletic Conference play. That streak includes a win at Texas A&M last Saturday — Southern’s headline victory of the season so far.
“After playing a big game like (A&M), you’re usually a little flat,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “It was just what I was afraid of. They think they can just come in and thought we’d just show up and we’d play and we’d win the game. It’s a lesson learned for us, but we fought through it and still dominated the game for the most part for the whole night.”
Southern had Spring Hill (2-14) on the ropes for the majority of the contest and led 33-14 heading into halftime. But the Badgers used a 16-5 streak at the start of the second half and cut the lead to 10 with less than 13 minutes left in the game.
“I didn’t want to lose my cool, I kind of wanted them to play through it a little bit,” Banks said.
Southern responded by going on a 15-5 run over the next five minutes to pull ahead by 20 and eventually coast to victory. The guards paced the scoring for the Jaguars, with Malcolm Miller, Derick Beltran and Jameel Grace finishing with 17, 16 and 14, respectively.
Forward Javan Mitchell, who scored 11 points in 26 minutes in the win against Texas A&M, could only manage four points in 23 minutes Friday.
“I know (Mitchell) didn’t shoot very well tonight,” Banks said, critiquing the entire squad. “We’ve got to get to the point where we have some consistent play. We’ve got to get in the gym, you’ve got to control your nerves, and you’ve got to come in here and perform every night.”
The Jaguars also had the attention of a few extra eyes Friday night. Southern is hosting the East Baton Rouge Parish high school tournament this weekend and gave free admission to any players or parents who stayed to watch the game.
While Banks appreciated the extra exposure, he was worried that the attention caused his team to play too flashy.
“We had some people in here looking at us,” he said. “I think they wanted to play well for the fans in the building instead of just playing well as a team. I thought we weren’t all in sync as a team. We came on and tried to be a little show time and hit the big home run.”
Southern begins SWAC play Wednesday at home against Texas Southern.