Fresh off of a season-opening win over Dillard University, the Southern University men’s basketball will take to the road looking to establish an identity.
Mike Celestin and Russell Hill each scored 14 points Friday night leading Southern (1-0) to a 67-48 win over the visiting Bleu Devils.
The competition gets stiffer Sunday when Southern travels to take on 19th-ranked Texas A&M (1-0). The game will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest from the Aggies’ Reed Arena at 3 p.m.
“They’re a mirror of how we play,” said first-year Southern coach Roman Banks, who played and coached under first-year Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy.
“They’re a little bigger, a little stronger. We’re going to see how we compete against people with more talent than us. Are we going to give in or are we going to fight?”
Banks was a player on the 1988-89 Northwestern State team, which included Kennedy as an assistant. Kennedy later hired Banks as an assistant in 2003 while he was head coach at Southeastern Louisiana.
At Southern, Banks inherited a program that had only won 17 games total in the past three seasons. The program was also hit with a one-year postseason ban because of its substandard Academic Progress Rate.
Still, Sunday’s game must have seemed like a natural scheduling opportunity for the two first-year head coaches, but Kennedy is not expected to be courtside.
Kennedy announced Oct. 27 he would take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with an early stage of Parkinson’s disease, and assistant coach Glynn Cyprien has been leading the team.
Texas A&M opened its season with an 81-59 win over Liberty, its 61st consecutive non-conference win at home. Ray Turner, a 6-foot-9, junior forward, led the Aggies with a career-high 20 points.
“It’s going to be a different animal,” Banks said of the challenge Texas A&M presents. “Every day is going to be a learning process for us. We want to get better. What we don’t want is to get beat up, and hang our heads.”
Against Dillard, Southern fell behind 8-4, but rallied to take a 31-23 lead at halftime. A 17-4 run early in the second half helped Southern take control for good as it won handily, 67-48.
In addition to Celestin and Hill, 6-8 center Quinton Doggett hit double figures with 13 points. The Jaguars will need an inside presence against the Aggies, who scored more than half of their points in the three-second lane against Liberty.
Texas A&M leads the series 2-1... Former LSU and UNO player Zach Kinsley is now a senior transfer at Texas A&M, and scored 4 points in nine minutes of play against Liberty.