Defense leads Southern men past Prairie View

Entering their pivotal matchup Friday night in the F.G. Clark Activity Center, the Prairie View men’s basketball team led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in scoring offense, and Southern led the league in scoring defense.

Defense — and Southern — ruled the day.

The Jaguars held Prairie View 23 points below its season scoring average, controlling the tempo of a slow-paced, low-scoring affair to improve to 2-0 in SWAC play with a 50-45 win.

“Our philosophy in our locker room is our defense has to be consistent every night,” coach Roman Banks said. “Your offense is on one night, but sometimes you can’t control that (shot) going in and out. Defense is more about hard work, effort and will.”

Southern (8-6) led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Prairie View (5-10, 0-2) pulled within one three times. Then came one last dry spell for the Panthers, who managed just 11 points in the final 10 minutes.

The Jaguars were without senior point guard Jameel Grace, who suffered a sprained left shoulder in Wednesday’s win against Texas Southern and watched from the bench with his arm in a sling. Freshman Christopher Hyder filled in, going for nine points and four rebounds — and shaking off five turnovers — in his first career start.

Not having Grace prompted Banks to put the focus on defense coming off a short turnaround.

“I knew for 40 minutes we’d be a little off rhythm,” Banks said. “We wanted to make sure we compensated by having a good scouting report to guard them defensively.”

Malcolm Miller with 11 points was Southern’s only double-digit scorer. Jourdan DeMuynck scored 12 to lead Prairie View.

Southern sealed its fourth straight win when Hyder baited Ronald Wright at the top of the key to draw a shooting foul, then made two of three free throws for a 50-42 lead.

Prairie View was picked first and Southern second in the preseason SWAC poll, making Friday’s matchup a key early season affair. But the teams are quickly heading in different directions.

Southern will play Sunday at Grambling looking to move three games above .500 overall and get to 3-0 in the conference. Prairie View came in having lost at Alcorn State in its SWAC opener and looking to snap a four-game losing streak.