Southern’s men’s and women’s basketball teams routinely play doubleheaders once SWAC play begins. On Friday, Southern will complete a different type of double play when its men’s team visits Nebraska.
The Nebraska women’s team defeated Southern 73-39 on Wednesday in Lincoln, Nebraska. Southern’s men (2-2) will have a chance to atone for the loss Friday evening when they visit the Cornhuskers (1-2).
Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“They have been struggling so far, especially at home against some mid-majors,” Southern coach Sean Woods said of Nebraska, which lost at home to UC-Riverside and Southern Utah before defeating South Dakota State on Nov. 15.
“We’ve got to come in and stay tough, and sustain for 40 minutes.”
The game is the first of a 12-game road trip, which concludes with Southern’s first two SWAC games. The Jaguars will stay in Nebraska next week when they play two games in The Mainland Tournament at Omaha. Southern returns home Jan. 11 to face Grambling.
With 13 new players on its roster, Southern is looking to add cohesion on the road trip as it prepares for SWAC play. The Jaguars have added height and athleticism, two factors that have Woods optimistic about his team’s outlook.
“Our guards have to continue be consistent, make plays for one another and get these bigs involved,” Woods said. “We’re working on some new stuff, pressuring the ball, and we’re getting it but we’re not there yet. This is only our fourth game of the year so our ceiling is very high.”
Southern is coming off a 121-55 win over Ecclesia College. In the early going, the game had a similar feel to a 2013 win over Champion Baptist College, when Southern set the NCAA all-division record by scoring the game’s first 44 points. Southern took a 44-6 lead with 3:18 left in the first half against Ecclesia, but the Royals settled in after that.
Forward Damiree Burns led Southern with 33 points off the bench, but the Jaguars also got strong contributions from its other big men. Amel Kuljuhovic, a 6-foot-10 center, and 6-9 forward Darius Williams both played more than 14 minutes and gave the Jaguars an inside presence they didn’t have last year.
The Southern lineup was also bolstered by James Edwards, a 6-10 post player seeing his first action after battling a wrist injury.
“We’ve got 13 new guys and we’ve got to find a way to win together,” Woods said. “We can compete with anybody in the country, but we’ve got to learn to sustain for 40 minutes. These (road) games are gearing us up so by the time we get to conference play we’re a well-oiled machine.”