It took Southern nearly a month into the season to play on the new floor of Avery Johnson Court in the F.G. Clark Activity Center, but the Jaguars didn’t disappoint in their home opener.
Powered by offensive outbursts from juniors Javan Mitchell and Malcolm Miller, Southern beat Champion Baptist College 90-36 Saturday afternoon after a weeklong hiatus to snap the Jaguars’ three-game losing skid and improve their record to 2-5.
“We needed that,” Southern coach Roman Banks said. “We were just a worn basketball team. You could tell by the difference in speed and everything.”
Southern physically outmatched CBC, whose tallest player was junior forward Brandon Likins, listed as generous 6-foot-7.
Likins scored 21 points to lead the Tigers. But the Jaguars, who have six players listed at 6-foot-7 or taller, proved to be too much for CBC (3-11) in the 54-point win that marked their highest offensive production of the season.
The Jaguars used their height to their advantage, forcing the Tigers to shoot longer-range shots all afternoon, which led to a 23.7 shooting percentage from CBC, including 8 percent from 3-point range. In contrast, Southern shot 64.4 percent from the field, with most of its points coming on breakaways, layups or other inside shots equating to 61 points in the paint.
“For once, it looked like the tables turned, and we had the size for a change,” Banks said. “It’s kind of what we’ve been fighting against. For once, our size really made a difference. We put a lot of pressure on them, and we were able to get a lot of run-outs.”
Southern’s size also helped it win the rebounding battle, snagging 48 to double CBC’s 24.
The Jaguars had five players with double-digit points, and nine of the 10 players who stepped on the court scored at least one bucket.
“We really worked on it in practice to pass the ball to the post and share the ball,” said Mitchell, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. “We were just trying to share the ball and let everybody get their touches and do what we have to do to get some wins.”
The downpour began early as Southern scored the first seven points of the game, followed by a 13-4 run to take an early 20-4 lead eight minutes into the game.
The Jaguars went into the break with a 49-16 advantage and never looked back, scoring 41 second-half points to finish off the Tigers.
Even with a statistically dominant showing on both ends, Banks was not completely pleased with the Jaguars’ performance, specifically on defense.
“Defensively, I didn’t think we were very good,” Banks said.
“I thought they still went where they wanted to go, and we didn’t dictate the action. Our defense depends on us dictating the action for it to be good. I have a lot of concern about us being able to be a very good defensive team, which I think is a key to winning a number of games.”
Southern has another nine days off before taking on William Carey College on Dec. 10 in the Jaguars’ second home game of the season. Saturday’s crowd wasn’t the largest, but the energy was certainly there from the opening tipoff, to the alley-oops, to the breakaway dunks.
“Finally, to be at home and a chance to be relaxed,” Banks said. “I think the guys really enjoyed it. The crowd came out, and there was a lot of energy in the building. I think they came today with some expectations and anxious to see.”