Its been a tale of two different halves in Southwestern Athletic Conference play for the Southern men's basketball team, which hopes to find a way to string together two good ones with a pair of road games coming up.
First up, Southern (1-13, 0-2 SWAC) plays Grambling at 5 p.m. Saturday followed by a trip to Jackson State for a 7:30 p.m. game on Monday.
Southern opened conference play with two home losses, but the Jaguars had solid play at different points in each game.
Last Saturday against Prairie View, Southern fell behind by 16 points at halftime and trailed by as many as 27 points in the second half. With the help of a late 19-3 run, the Jaguars cut their deficit to eight points three times before falling 82-73.
On Monday against conference favorite Texas Southern, the Jaguars led by as many as eight points before taking a 33-30 halftime lead. Texas Southern took the lead for good early in the second half and never let the Jaguars get closer than six points in the final minutes of its 77-67 win.
“We are getting better,” Southern coach Sean Woods said. “I thought that the second half, maybe the last 10 minutes against Prairie View showed the fight that we have. We’ve just got to stop getting ourselves in that position.”
Southern did that against Texas Southern, when it started fast and never trailed in the first half.
“We had a great start, but then we didn’t sustain and finish,” Woods said. “We’ve got to put it all together now and stay consistent for 40 minutes.”
Forward Sidney Umude has been the most consistent player for Southern so far. The 6-foot-7 senior followed a 17-point, nine-rebound performance against Prairie View with 15 points and seven rebounds against TSU. Eddie Reese led Southern with 17 points against TSU but also has a team-high nine turnovers in the first two conference games combined.
Grambling (6-9, 0-2) is led by 6-foot-7 forward Dallas Polk-Hilliard, who averages 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds. The Tigers also have a force in the middle with 7-1 center Travon Bunch, who is second in the conference with 22 blocked shots.
Chris Howell, the SWAC’s leading rebounder at 9.3 per game, leads Jackson State (4-11, 1-1) with an average of 11.7 points.
“We’re working on us right now,” Woods said. “We think we’re as good as any team in the league; we just need to put it all together. Coming back against Prairie View, we’ve shown how tough we can be. At the beginning against Texas Southern, we showed that we can dominate, but we couldn’t keep our foot on the gas.”
CARDIAC KIDS: Southern is coming off two conference games that came down to the final seconds.
Southern was unable to convert on its last chance in a 55-54 loss to Prairie View. Against Texas Southern, Courtney Parson’s short bank shot lifted the Jaguars to a 63-61 win.
Parson and Brittany Rose each scored 13 points against TSU. Alyric Scott and Taneara Moore averaged six rebounds apiece in the two games.
The Jaguars will face Grambling at 3 p.m. Saturday while the contest at Jackson State is set for 5:30 p.m.