Southern’s longest winning streak of the season hinged on 10.2 seconds.
Alabama A&M's a scrappy bunch. The Bulldogs erased Southern's double-digit lead in a 40-minute slugfest Monday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center and caught the Jaguars in the final minutes.
Southern trailed 61-60 when star forward Jared Sam drew a foul for a one-and-one free throw opportunity to take the lead.
Sam missed the first. The game seemed lost.
But Jamar Sandifer collected Sam's miss and flicked in a quick layup for a 62-61 win. Ballgame.
"Normally I'm a good free throw shooter," Sam said. "But it was a good miss."
Sandifer scored just four points, but the final two were big.
"The whole time I'm in the lane, I was just thinking, 'He's going to miss. He's going to miss,' " Sandifer said. "I don't know why. ... When he shot it, I was already planning to go around the backside of the defense. He just made a perfect miss. ... I played it perfectly, I guess."
Southern (8-13, 4-4 SWAC) has begun adapt to this — Southwestern Athletic Conference duels that come down to the final minutes.
Or the final few seconds. Three of the Jaguars’ past four games have been decided by two points. Two others (a win and Southern’s most recent loss, Jan. 13 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff) ended in overtime.
"It stresses me out," coach Morris Scott joked. "As long as they can keep pulling them out all the way through the end, I'll take them."
Monday, Southern's 10-point lead vanished because of bad offensive possession and costly turnovers. With 1:50 remaining in the final half, Southern and Alabama A&M tied at 56.
Once again, Sam was Southern’s lightning rod, electrifying the Jaguars offense with a game-high 19 points to pave way for their third straight win.
Southern’s usual contributors of late dropped their fair share, too. Guard Eddie Reese added 12 points and stretch forward Sidney Umude posted 14.
Reese, Southern’s former starting point guard, and Umude combined for 26 of Southern’s 32 points off the bench.
To build a comeback, Alabama A&M attacked Southern’s interior defense with a three- or four-guard lineup. None were taller than 6-foot-2, but once the shifty guards breached the Jaguars' defense, the Bulldogs tended to kick to open shooters.
"Always expect them to be a little bit scrappy," Sam said.