All top four seeds of the 2018 Southwestern Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament remain alive.
That includes No. 4 Southern, by the slimmest of margins. With less than one second remaining in regulation in Tuesday's quarterfinal, the Jaguars snuck past No. 5 Jackson State 62-60 with a pair of go-ahead free throws.
The Jaguars, who will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday in a semifinal against No. 1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston, grinded out yet another tight-knit SWAC win — their sixth game decided by a single possession.
Friday isn’t expected to be much different.
“Same as this one, I’m sure,” said Southern coach Morris Scott said. “It’ll be a tough-fought, battled game. They’ve got great players. They’ve got the player of the year and the newcomer of the year on their team. They’ve got defensive player of the year. They have a lot of great pieces on their team.”
Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff split their season series, each winning at home.
Southern lost 78-76 in overtime at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Jan. 13 and defeated the Golden Lions 70-62 on Feb. 10 at home.
Southern is 4-14 away from Baton Rouge this season and has yet to play a neutral-site game.
“We’ve got to be more locked in and be ready,” said Southern senior forward Jared Sam.
“We’ve just got to go out with energy and effort and I think we give ourselves a good chance,” Scott said.
The SWAC’s player and newcomer of the Year, Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard Martaveous McKnight, scored 16 points in the Golden Lions’ 77-73 quarterfinal win against No. 8 Mississippi Valley State.
Forward Trent Steen, a member of the All-SWAC second team, was named the SWAC’s defensive player of the year for UAPB, which allowed 71.1 points per game in the regular season, second-best in the league.