As the Southern men's basketball team approaches what will be, so far, its biggest weekend of the season, coach Sean Woods doesn’t want the Jaguars to get caught up in the hype.
The stakes are as high as they can be for a midseason weekend of conference play.
Southern (4-6, 4-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) sits third in the league standings and will host its two biggest rivals, Grambling and Jackson State. Of more importance, all three teams are still in the running to win the SWAC regular-season title.
For now, the difference in the standings between Southern and Grambling (7-8, 5-3) is the Jaguars' 61-55 win on Jan. 9. The Tigers, alone in fourth place and percentage points behind Southern, visit the F.G. Clark Activity Center on Saturday. The 7 p.m. game will be televised by ESPNU.
The first game between Southern and Jackson State (4-5, 4-0), scheduled for Jan. 11, was postponed and a makeup date has not been set. The Tigers are one game behind undefeated Prairie View in the standings and will be in Baton Rouge on Monday for an 8 p.m. game also slated for ESPNU.
“We’re just taking one game at a time,” Woods said. “We know they’re both rivalry games, but at the end of the day we’ve got to make sure we do what we’re supposed to do. If we do that, then I think everything else will take care of itself.”
Ahsante Shivers leads Southern in scoring with a 10.8 points per game average. Jayden Saddler averages 10.4 points and is one of the conference leaders handing out 5.6 assists. Harrison Henderson is the league’s second-leading rebounder at 7.7 per contest.
The SWAC’s top rebounder is Jackson State’s Jayveous McKinnis (12.6). JSU also boasts the league’s No. 1 scorer in Tristan Jarrett, who averages 20.3 points.
Grambling is led by Cameron Christon (12.9 points) and Prince Moss (8.4 points).
Southern is playing at home after going 1-2 in three road games. After losing games at Alabama A&M and Alabama State, the Jaguars posted a convincing 76-59 win at Alcorn State last Saturday.
“That was a great rebound game at Alcorn and a statement game for us,” Woods said. “Right now, we’re playing very confident. We know if we do things right and play together then we can continue to have this type of success.”
SOUTHERN LOOKING FOR FIFTH CONSECUTIVE WIN: Like the Southern men, the women's team (5-8, 5-2) will face two rival opponents as all three try to stay near the top of the SWAC standings.
Southern is tied for fourth place with Grambling (6-5, 5-2), which defeated the Jaguars 67-64 at Grambling on Jan. 9. The teams play at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Jackson State (8-5, 7-1) brings two of the league’s top players in for their contest at 5 p.m. Monday. Dayzsha Rogan is the league’s top scorer averaging 17.5 points. Ameshya Williams is just behind at 17.2 points and averages a SWAC-best 12.2 rebounds.
Jackson State defeated Southern 62-42 on Jan. 11.
Southern, which is last in the SWAC shooting 34.8% from the field on the year, will look to get going offensively. Genovea Johnson leads the Jaguars scoring at 14.5 points, and Raven White pulls down a team-best 5.7 rebounds.