The Southern men’s basketball team plans to keep its foot on the gas pedal throughout its game against Mississippi Valley State on Monday. Tip-off is approximately 7:30 p.m. in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
A week ago, the Jaguars had a 16-point halftime lead at Jackson State and saw the Tigers charge back and beat them 81-80 on a 3-pointer with less than a second left.
Though Southern bounced back to beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 66-58 at home Saturday, it saw a 19-point lead with eight minutes left shrink to six with more than a minute left.
“We’ve got to play the whole 40 minutes,” guard Christopher Hyder said. “The last two games, we kind of let up toward the end and let teams back into the game and get their confidence going. And it can be hard to stop that.”
Coach Roman Banks said his team jumped the gun in terms of playing to the scoreboard and clock and lost its aggressiveness.
“We’re going to have to work on that because at that particular point, we have to keep playing. And then I’ll let them know when we’ll start our possession game,” Banks said. “Hopefully we’ll play a little looser.”
Banks said when the Jaguars will need to be aggressive throughout against the Delta Devils.
“This is a game where you always have to be on attack,” he said. “We have to be very aggressive and ready to attack them, because if you get on your heels, they will swallow you up. They’re going to trap all over the floor and press some. Even when they get in their zone, they’re going to trap in the corners.”
Southern (17-8, 9-3 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) beat the Delta Devils (5-21, 5-7) 67-54 four weeks ago.
The Jaguars are tied with Alabama State for second place in the SWAC, 1½ games behind Texas Southern. They haven’t lost at home this season, going 9-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
Southern knows it will have to continue its success at home to win the SWAC regular-season title. It visits Alabama State on Saturday and hosts Texas Southern on March 3.
“You’ve got to make sure you get all your wins at home so you can stay near the top of the race and be one of the top two seeds,” forward Rashad Andrews said.
The Jaguars have just a one-game lead against Jackson State in the wake of the loss there last week.
“If you stub your toe at home, you probably won’t be in the race for first place,” Banks said. “It’s so tight now that you could probably go from being in the race to (fourth) place (with a loss).”
Though Southern saw UAPB make a late run Saturday, it was able to hold on — unlike what happened in its previous game — thanks to two free throws by Andrews, one by Jared Sam and two by Hyder.
“It’s good to come home and get one and get your confidence back,” Hyder said. “It lets us know what we have to do every game, because late in the game, we kind of faded away and they came back. We’ve got to stay with it and continue to win.”
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.