Southern men’s basketball coach Sean Woods likes the progress his team has shown during a six-game winning streak, the longest current winning streak in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, but the Jaguars aren’t satisfied.
“We haven’t scratched the surface, yet. We’re still getting better,” Woods said. “I’ve got 14 new guys and we’re putting this thing together, but the good thing is we’re winning.”
The recent success came after the Jaguars hit one of their lowest points of the season in a 61-56 loss to rival Grambling on Jan. 11 at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Southern took a 40-29 halftime lead over Grambling, but was outscored 32-16 in the second half. The Jaguars scored just two points in the game’s final 9 minutes, 34 seconds of play. Despite making only one of its last nine shots from the field, Southern was within striking distance in the last two minutes before two costly turnovers helped Grambling ice the game.
Since then, Southern (9-13, 6-3) has shown maturity as its winning streak has grown. In Monday’s 93-82 win over Alcorn State, the Jaguars kept their composure after Alcorn sliced a 13-point halftime deficit to four with nine minutes to play.
Southern surged back out to a nine-point lead, and then made 10 of 10 free-throw attempts down the stretch to put the Braves away.
On Saturday, Southern will get another crack at Grambling (11-11, 5-4) when the teams square off at Grambling’s Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center at 5:30 p.m.
Micah Bradford scored 27 points against Alcorn, and Lamarcus Lee tallied a career-high 26. At Grambling, Southern may not necessarily look to Bradford and Lee to again lead the way.
“It’s game by game,” Woods said following the Alcorn win. “I have confidence in everybody that they’re going to score with the ball… You can’t key on just one guy. We’ve got great ball movement and everybody can take you off the bounce.
“My motto is be aggressive and make the right play.”
Southern will look to contain Grambling’s Cameron Christon and Devante Jackson, who each scored 13 points in the first game. Grambling outrebounded Southern 33-28 behind the work of Terreon Randolph (10 rebounds) and Travon Bunch (nine rebounds).
Ashante Shivers is Southern’s top scorer (9.0 points per game) while Darius Williams averages a team-best 7.8 rebounds.
The Southern women connected on a season-high 60.4% from the field (29 of 48) in their 81-57 win over Grambling earlier this season. Including last season, when Southern won both regular-season meetings and another in the SWAC tournament, the Jaguars have a four-game winning streak over their rival.
Southern (9-11, 7-2) never trailed in this season first meeting, and stretched a 23-17 first quarter lead to 44-29 at the half. Grambling (2-18, 1-8) never got closer than 14 points in the second half.
Top performers for Southern were Alyric Scott (21 points, four rebounds) and Jaden Towner (19 points). Grambling is off to its worst start in SWAC play since 2013, when it was 3-6 through nine conference games.