Photos: Southern takes on Grambling _lowres

Advocate Staff Photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern's Trelun Banks drives to the basket on Grambling defender Michael Bethea, Jr. on Saturday night at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

The Southern men’s basketball team has done a pretty good job of playing short-handed.

After losing their first two Southwestern Athletic Conference games, the Jaguars have won their past four even though starting center D’Adrian Allen has yet to play in a league game because of a sprained ankle.

They held on to beat Jackson State after starting guard Trelun Banks missed almost the entire second half after he aggravated a sprained ankle, an injury that kept him out of wins at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State.

Despite the success in adjusting, Southern (12-7, 4-2) can’t wait to get the injured players back, and it hopes to have both available when it plays Alabama State (6-11, 1-4) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

Both players are expected to dress and likely will play if they show no ill effects from an intense practice Friday, coach Roman Banks said.

Regardless of the status of the injured starters, coach Banks discovered additional players he can count on.

With Allen sidelined, Banks decided to go with a smaller starting lineup and inserted 6-foot-5 Rashad Andrews as a starter, enabling him to get bigger when he brings 6-9 Tony Nunn off the bench and maintain an offensive spark off the bench from Shawn Prudhomme. LaQuentin Collins has been starting in Trelun Banks’ place.

“I think starting Rashad gets us back to our rotation,” Banks said. “Now you’ve got big Tony coming off the bench. Then you’ve got Chris Thomas coming off the bench. You have Shawn coming off the bench, then you had LaQuentin coming off the bench, who’s now starting. I feel like that between those guys we can get 15 points any night if not more.”

Prudhomme (9.6 points per game), Thomas (4.6), Nunn (4.1) and Collins (2.7) are averaging a combined 21 points, allowing the Jaguars to maintain the second-highest scoring average (72.3) in the SWAC.

Banks likened Andrews’ contributions to those of former Jaguars guard Cameron Monroe, a dependable and versatile player who graduated after last season.

“He’s a guy that just understands basketball, and he’s a glue guy,” Banks said. “He’s a guy who can make a 3, he can pass the ball well and he can rebound. He can do a lot of things out there.”

With Trelun Banks, the team’s second-leading scorer, sidelined, the point production after leading scorer Adrian Rodgers can be divided a variety of ways.

In a 67-54 victory at Mississippi Valley on Monday, all eight Jaguars who played scored. Rodgers, Andrews and Prudhomme made early 3-pointers as Southern quickly opened a double-digit lead, and point guard Christopher Hyder took over the scoring late.

“Everybody knows what kind of shot they can take,” Hyder said.

In the SWAC preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, Southern was picked to finish second, and ASU was third. But the Hornets have struggled offensively in conference play, ranking last in field-goal percentage (36.8) and 3-point percentage (24.5).

The teams had three heavyweight battles last season. ASU won 63-59 in overtime in the Clark Activity Center and won 56-54 at home, but the Jaguars won 68-66 in the semifinals of the SWAC tournament.

“We’re expecting a continuation of an intense rivalry,” coach Banks said. “We’re looking for another knock-down, drag-out kind of game.”