The Southern men’s basketball team found itself in a familiar position in the second half of Monday afternoon’s game against Jackson State.
The Jaguars had the lead with a chance to close out a conference rival and pick up their first Southwestern Athletic Conference win of the season. Unlike Saturday, when the Jaguars struggled in a loss to Grambling, this time Southern had all the answers with a late surge leading to a 56-50 win.
Lamarcus Lee led the way with his biggest game yet for Southern (4-13, 1-3). The junior guard scored a team-high 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists. Michah Bradford was the only other Jaguar in double figures with 14, but there was plenty of help on the boards.
Damiree Burns had 11 rebounds and Darius Williams nine as Southern outrebounded Jackson State 39-18.
“We sustained,” Southern coach Sean Woods said. “You know the other team is going to have a run, but our guys stayed the course.”
Southern led 31-25 at halftime, but Grambling fought back to force a tie game twice, the last at 48-48 with two minutes left to play. Southern responded by scoring on each of its next four possessions to put the game away.
Lee hit a jumper from the right side to give Southern a 50-48 lead, then got back on defense to take a charge setting up another possession. That led to two free throws by Bradford, and JSU was unable to make it a one possession game again.
“That was his best Division I game. Period,” Woods said of Lee, a former Scotlandville High player who transferred to Southern from San Jacinto junior college for this season. “We’ve got enough talent. The pieces just have to come together.”
Roland Griffin finished with 18 points for Jackson State (5-12, 2-2). The Tigers also got 11 points from Jayveous McKinnis and 10 from Jonas James.
Southern’s largest lead was at 34-27 three minutes into the second half after a drive by Bradford. Jackson State outscored Southern 13-2 to take a 40-36 lead, but Bradford made 3-pointers on consecutive possession to put the Jaguars back on top 42-40.
In the first half, Southern trailed 17-12 before rallying.
A dunk by Darius Williams capped a 6-0 run to put Southern ahead 18-17 with eight minutes left in the half. There were four lead changes over the two minutes before Lee’s 3-pointer gave Southern a 23-21 lead.
Three more baskets from Lee Helped Southern increase its lead to 31-23 in the final minute. A late JSU bucket left Southern with a 31-25 halftime lead.
Southern outrebounded JSU 21-8 in the half.