For just the third time this season, the Southern men’s basketball team showed the ability to string together two halves of winning basketball when it defeated Jackson State on Monday, but that game was in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
If the Jaguars hope to carry that momentum into the next part of their schedule, they will have to do so on the road, where they have yet to get a win this season. The good news is that the opponents, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State, both fell to Southern in their first meeting.
For Southern (4-20, 3-8) the motivation is two-fold. Not only would picking up its first road win of the season show improvement, it would also keep alive the Jaguars' hopes of finishing in the top eight of the SWAC standings.
Southern is in ninth place, a game behind Alcorn State and Alabama A&M, who are tied for seventh with a 4-7 record.
First up, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Southern takes on Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-15, 6-5), where the Jaguars have lost the past two meetings. Monday, the scenario is reversed when Southern plays at Valley (1-10, 3-22), a place where it has won the past four meetings. Tipoff Monday is also at 7:30 p.m.
“It's tough in this league and in any conference when you play on the road,” said Southern coach Sean Woods, who acknowledged the Golden Lions and the Delta Devils likely will be looking for payback. “We’ve got to come in knowing that they’re going to try and get us back. We’ve got to go in with an even tougher mindset than we did when we played them at home.”
Part of that mindset will be replicating the shooting touch from Monday’s 76-67 win over Jackson State. The Jaguars made 13 of 23 from the field as they rolled to a 39-25 halftime lead. In the second half, Southern made its first shot, then went more than 11 minutes without a field goal.
During that time, Southern missed eight shots, but it found a way to get to the free-throw line where it made 13 of 16. As a result, Southern was able to maintain control of the game until it eventually regained its shooting touch.
“If we had shot half as good on Saturday as we did on Monday, I think we would have beat Grambling, too,” Woods said of the Jaguars' 59-40 loss to the Tigers. Southern led 23-20 at halftime, but made 7 of 24 shots (24.1 percent) in the second half.
“We just couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Defensively, we did a pretty good job, but sooner or later they started making their shots and we never did. On Monday, we made shots and we continued to make shots.”
JAGUARS LOOK TO REBOUND FROM RARE HOME LOSS: The Southern women are looking to bounce back after their second home loss of the season, 59-52 to Jackson State on Monday.
Southern has shown poise all season winning close game after close game in the fourth quarter. Against Jackson State, the Jaguars led 46-44 entering the final quarter but got outscored 15-6.
The loss caused Southern (11-11, 8-3) to drop into a first-place tie with Alabama State in the SWAC standings.
Southern will play Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-14, 1-10) at 5 p.m. Saturday; Monday’s game at Valley will begin at 5:30 p.m.