Southern’s offensive hot streak came to an end in a 77-68 loss to Alabama State on Saturday night in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome in Montgomery, Alabama.
The Jaguars had averaged nearly five points per game more than their Southwestern Athletic Conference-leading average of 73 points in their past five games. They were coming off their highest point total in a SWAC game in two years, a 97-64 victory against Mississippi Valley State on Monday.
Balanced scoring, efficient ball movement and inside-out scoring had become commonplace as they stayed in the thick of the SWAC race. But on Saturday night, they lost their balance and efficiency and dropped down a peg in the league race.
“(ASU) showed up with a level of aggression that we didn’t match all night long,” coach Roman Banks said. “We got outplayed for 40 minutes. They showed a lot of aggression as if they wanted the game more.”
The Jaguars (18-9, 10-4) dropped into a third-place tie with Jackson State as they prepare to visit Alabama A&M on Monday. ASU, which was picked third in the SWAC preseason poll, won for the fourth time in five games to improve to 10-15 and 5-8.
“If you play to that team’s record, you’ll lose every time,” Banks said. “They’re a much better team than their record indicates.”
Southern had just seven assists, tying its second-fewest in a game this season.
In Southern’s past two games, eight Jaguars had averaged between 6.5 points and 14.5 points, but there was no such balance Saturday as Adrian Rodgers scored a game-high 22, Christopher Hyder had 13 and Trelun Banks added 12. The four Jaguars who came off the bench combined for 10 points on 2-for-10 shooting.
“Normally we get more points from our bench,” coach Banks said. “When we needed it tonight, we didn’t get it.”
Corvon Butler led the Hornets with 19 points and nine rebounds, Tony Armstrong had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jamel Waters had 12 points and 10 assists.
“It was a good team victory,” ASU coach Lewis Jackson said. “We had a lot of energy from start to finish. We had a lot of guys step up and make plays to make things happen.”
The Hornets led by three points at halftime and quickly pushed the lead to double figures in the second half.
Rodgers scored six consecutive Jaguars points as they got within 53-49 midway through. But Butler took over, and the Hornets rebuilt the lead. He scored six straight points and ASU pushed the lead to 13 and coasted from there.
“We wanted to limit (Rodgers’) touches,” Jackson said. “We made his take some tough shots early. He hit some big 3s late, and he got loose a couple of times.”
Southern shot just 40 percent from the field (24-for-60), 25 percent on 3-pointers (4-for-16) and 64 percent on free throws (16-for-25).