Southern concludes its nonconference schedule with two games in the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Jaguars (7-4) play North Carolina Central at 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon and will face either Eastern Illinois or Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday. After that, they break for Christmas and don’t play again until visiting Texas Southern for the Southwestern Athletic Conference opener Jan. 2.
Southern has been on the road for a week, having lost at Memphis (72-67) on Tuesday and at Louisiana Tech (83-76) on Friday. In both games, the Jaguars had a lead in the second half but got outscored down the stretch.
“We’ve got to zero in on North Carolina Central,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “We’ve got to put together a good game and try to get back in the win column.”
The Jaguars have lost consecutive games for the first time this season. In both games, Southern was beaten badly at the foul line. The Jaguars shot half as many free throws (40) as their opponents (80) and got outscored by 30 points at the line. They committed 57 fouls and their opponents committed 38.
“They’re not going to have the size that we faced the last two games,” Banks said of UNCC. “Hopefully we can regroup, get better and get some confidence to take with us into conference play.”
Though the Eagles have just one player taller than 6-foot-7, they lead the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in rebounding margin (plus-6.1 per game). The Jaguars are sixth in the SWAC (minus-4.1).
Sophomore forward Jared Sam has had his two best games of the season to start this road trip, averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds against Memphis and Tech.
UNCC and Southern will have strength against strength when the Jaguars have the ball. Southern leads the Southwestern Athletic in scoring (76.8 points per game) and field-goal percentage (46.4).
The Eagles lead the MEAC in scoring defense (69.4) and field-goal percentage defense (41.5).
UNCC is 3-7 after a 73-65 loss at Houston on Wednesday. It is 1-1 in the MEAC.
The Eagles also played at Louisiana Tech and were less competitive than Southern was, losing 71-50 on Nov. 27.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.