Southern had just gotten its first Southwestern Athletic Conference victory of the season when it beat Grambling 65-61 on Saturday.
Already the team was thinking about its next opponent: Jackson State at 8 p.m. Monday (CST/WXOK-AM, 1460) in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. More specifically the Jaguars were thinking about the previous meeting, when the visiting Tigers defeated them 62-52 on Feb. 9.
“It’s one of (four) teams to walk in here and beat us,” coach Roman Banks said. “They broke us in two.”
Southern scored just 23 second-half points, and JSU held the Jaguars to 37 percent shooting, outrebounded them by 18 and outscored them by 18 points in the paint and 23 on second-chance points.
“They’re a big team, a physical team,” guard Christopher Hyder said. “You’ve got to get down and work hard to win that type of game. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Tigers (8-8, 3-0 SWAC) haven’t changed since last season. In SWAC play, they rank second in scoring defense (66.0) and field-goal defense (36.8 percent), are third in rebounding (40.7) and are first in blocked shots (5.7) and steals (9.0).
“It’s going to be a grind-it-out kind of game because that’s the style they play,” guard Adrian Rodgers said. “They’re going to be real physical, and we’ve got to be ready to match the intensity.”
Southern (9-7, 1-2) ended a three-game losing streak by beating Grambling, but it allowed the Tigers to score inside repeatedly as they cut a 17-point deficit to two. Grambling scored 28 consecutive points at the rim or the free-throw line.
The Tigers outrebounded the Jaguars by one, outscored them by two in the paint and had twice as many second-chance points (10-5).
“They kind of made their comeback inside, fighting and rebounding,” Banks said. “We know we have to clean (the interior defense) up; we know that’s one of our weak areas. We’re just trying to find bodies to rotate in. We’ll figure it out and keep trying to work at it.”
With starting center D’Adrian Allen (6-foot-8) sidelined by an ankle injury, Banks had been starting Tony Nunn (6-9), but Nunn proved to be foul-prone and is more comfortable coming off the bench. So against Grambling, Banks started 6-5 Rashad Andrews, who had two points and two rebounds in 13 minutes.
“He’s been working hard, and I’ve got confidence in him,” Banks said. “He did a good job. It was his first start and I didn’t want to put a lot on him, but he stepped up and handled his team responsibilities.”
JSU, like Southern, opened some eyes with its success against a challenging nonconference schedule. The Jaguars beat Mississippi State, Tulane and Wyoming. The Tigers won at Southern Miss and Southeastern Louisiana, took Louisiana Tech to double overtime before losing (to a team that had the second-longest home-court winning streak in the country at the time) and also visited Oregon, Baylor and Marquette.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.