Southern men visit MVSU

Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- Southern's Yondarius Johnson drives to the basket on Jackson State defender Julysses Nobles earlier this month. The Jaguars, unbeaten in the Southwesteren Athletic Conference, visit Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday night.
Advocate staff photo by John Oubre -- Southern's Yondarius Johnson drives to the basket on Jackson State defender Julysses Nobles earlier this month. The Jaguars, unbeaten in the Southwesteren Athletic Conference, visit Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday night.

The Southern men’s basketball team plays a Mississippi Valley State team Wednesday that hasn’t won a Southwestern Athletic Conference game.

But Jaguars coach Roman Banks said the venue and the Delta Devils’ style of play make them a bigger challenge than their record might suggest. Southern is 9-9 overall and 5-0 in the SWAC. MVSU is 4-13 and 0-4. Tip-off will be approximately 7:30 p.m. in Greenwood, Miss.

“Valley plays off a lot of emotion of the crowd,” Banks said. “They like to get up and down and trap you all over. The thing about them is their guys can score and they’ll attack you at any time.”

Banks said the Devils have a strong home-court environment just like Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where Southern prevailed 60-56 last Saturday. Both places have small gyms where the seats are near the court, creating an intimidating atmosphere.

“They’re both very good venues,” Banks said. “You have to play very cerebrally and be able to finish plays. (Saturday night) was the first time (in that type of environment) for a lot of our players. They understand they have to play better.”

MVSU ranks second in the SWAC in scoring with an average of 73.3 points per game and the Jaguars are fourth (71.1). But the Jaguars are the top defensive team in the conference, holding opponents to 63.8 points per game. The Delta Devils are last, allowing 85.0.

“We’ve been working on how we finish basketball games and making smarter plays at the end,” forward Malcolm Miller said. “But we’re playing well as a team. Nobody is playing for themselves.”

Forward Calvin Godfrey, Southern’s leading scorer and rebounder, and center Javan Mitchell both got into foul trouble against UAPB. Damien Goodwin helped offset their reduced minutes by coming off the bench to get eight points, five rebounds, one block and one steal.

“Calvin and Javan start off the game, and my role is to come in and rebound and play good defense,” Goodwin said. “I just try to be a good teammate and bring a lot of energy to the game and help us get going.”

This game was postponed two days because of a bomb threat against MVSU’s arena, leaving Southern with three games in the next six days. The Jaguars host Alabama A&M on Saturday and Alabama State on Monday.

“It presents a challenge down the line,” Banks said, “but it won’t change our focus.”