Southern forward Jared Sam is finding his groove at the right time.
The 6-foot-10 forward had 23 points in last Saturday’s one-point loss at Grambling and 18 more Monday at Jackson State, the Jaguars' second road win. The senior, who averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on the road trip while picking up his SWAC-best 10th double-double with 12 rebounds Monday, earned Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors.
“Yeah, he’s starting to find it,” coach Morris Scott said of Sam, who has scored 13 or more points in four straight games. “Our coaching staff, we’ve been challenging him to be better every night. Because he had some games where he only ended up with six, five or six, seven rebounds when we think he could be a guy to have potentially a double-double average a night.
“He’s a very humble kid. He’s one of those guys that’s going to go out there and do his job. He’s playing really well for us right now.”
Southern (10-14, 6-5 SWAC) begins a two-game home stand Saturday against SWAC-leading Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-15, 9-2). Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the F.G. Clark Activity Center and will be televised by the SWAC Digital Network.
Sam, a preseason first-team All-SWAC member, is averaging 16.5 points in 11 SWAC games, the sixth-best mark in the conference, and has seven games with 10 or more rebounds.
“Especially during league play, he should be a guy averaging a double-double,” Scott said. “He’s stepping up to the challenge a little bit and answering the bell. Hopefully he can just continue to do that throughout this second half of the conference run and into the tournament and hopefully gives us a shot to actually capture a championship.”
The No. 6 Jaguars defeated No. 3 Jackson State 67-62 on Monday, sealing their first road since Jan. 15 at Mississippi Valley State, which Southern will host Monday.
“You just hope it gives us a little more momentum coming back home,” Scott said, “to continue to play at a high level so we can continue to stay in the race and the hunt to get back in the top half during conference play.”
ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF AT SOUTHERN: The SWAC-leading Jaguars (10-10, 9-2 SWAC) host Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5-16, 3-8), at 3 p.m. Saturday. After Saturday's game, Southern hosts Mississippi Valley State (1-22, 1-10 ), the SWAC's only club without a road win, at 5 p.m. Monday.