The Southern men’s basketball team’s lack of size inside was exposed in a 77-68 loss to Alabama State on Saturday night.
The Jaguars spent Sunday trying to find a way to avoid a similar outcome when they visit Alabama A&M at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the T.M. Elmore Gym in Huntsville, Ala.
“(Alabama State) pounded us, and that set the tempo,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “They played like they were bigger than they are. We didn’t play any bigger than we are. That was our Achilles’ heel.”
Forward Corvon Butler, 6-foot-5, had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Alabama State; and forward Tony Armstrong, 6-6, added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Southern starts 6-5 Rashad Andrews and 6-9 Jared Sam in the frontcourt. A&M starts 6-10 Nick West, the first-team preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference center, and 6-8 Quinterian McConico.
“(Alabama State) took advantage of (Southern’s size),” Banks said. “That was partially on us because we had a lack of energy and didn’t match their sense of urgency.”
The Jaguars (18-9, 10-4) should have a sense of urgency regarding the SWAC race. The loss to Alabama State dropped Southern out of a second-place tie with Alcorn State (11-3) and into a third-place tie with Jackson State. First-place Texas Southern is 12-1.
Southern defeated A&M 73-52 on Jan. 25. McConico led the Bulldogs with 12 points and West scored 10. McConico and West had just four rebounds each as the Jaguars finished with a 37-35 rebounding edge.
Bulldogs guard Ladarius Tabb entered that game as the SWAC’s leading scorer and the Jaguars held him to eight points, 13 below his season average, and four Jaguars outscored him.
Adrian Rodgers scored a game-high 20 points, Christopher Hyder had 14 and Andrews and Trelun Banks had 10 each. Tabb is now third in the SWAC with an average of 16.6, one point below Rodgers’ league-leading average.
Tabb made 3-of-9 shots and missed all four of his 3-pointers, playing just 20 minutes because of foul trouble and the lopsided margin.
The Jaguars held the Bulldogs to 33 percent shooting (17-of-51), including 18.2 percent (4-of-22) on 3-pointers. A&M’s point total was its lowest this season.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.