The impressive start to the Southern men’s basketball season has been marked by victories against familiar programs such as Mississippi State, Tulane, Southeastern Louisiana and Wyoming.
Things will be different Sunday when the Jaguars will play a far less recognizable school in Ecclesia College at 3 p.m. in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Ecclesia, located in Springdale, Arkansas, is a member of National Christian College Athletic Association. The Royals are 8-3 after a 101-60 loss Friday at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Ecclesia is a “Bible-based inter-denominational Christian college” with an enrollment of fewer than 200.
“We’re depending on the leadership of the guys who have been here to come out and not look at the team we’re playing, but look at it as our next game,” coach Roman Banks said Saturday. “Good teams try not to look at the other team and just look at each game as an opportunity to get better.”
Southern is 6-2 after a 68-58 victory at Wyoming on Thursday. The Jaguars had fast starts in both halves.
They opened an early 22-10 lead before the Cowboys cut the deficit to 27-26 at halftime. Southern started the second half with an 8-0 run to regain control.
The Jaguars outrebounded Wyoming 45-25, including 14-3 on the offensive glass. That led to Southern’s 30-10 advantage in points in the paint.
Banks said he was pleased with the way the Jaguars bounced back 48 hours after their five-game win streak ended in a 70-56 loss at Grand Canyon University.
“I thought we showed maturity with the learning curve we had in a short period of time,” Banks said. “We learned from the last game and made the adjustments we needed to.”
The Jaguars have played two games against non-NCAA teams, beating Dillard 79-65 on Nov. 24 and beating Paul Quinn College 96-63 on Nov. 30. Both of those games were in the Clark Activity Center.
“I hope we have the maturity to understand that just because a team doesn’t have a lot of name recognition,” Banks said, “that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good team.”
Sunday’s game is Southern’s last home game before Christmas, and the Jaguars are calling it “Christmas on Us.” Youth ages 12 and under will be admitted free, and the university is raffling off 20 bikes. Santa Claus will be on hand to take pictures with fans.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.