GRAMBLING — The Southern and Grambling men’s basketball teams pretty much kept doing what they’ve been doing all along Saturday night.
The Jaguars kept winning to maintain their hold on first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Tigers kept losing to maintain their hold on last.
Southern raced to a 55-29 halftime lead and cruised to a 104-54 victory against Grambling in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.
“Whenever you play your rivalry school like Grambling and you see the crowd that’s going to be here, you’re always concerned about focus and I know that’s a weakness of this team,” Jaguars coach Roman Banks said. “I was glad to see our shoot-around this morning was really good and this was one of our better focused games.”
Malcolm Miller scored 22 points to lead four Southern players in double figures. Yondarius Johnson scored 16 and Calvin Godfrey and Javan Mitchell had 14 each. All 11 Jaguars scored.
Every Southern starter made at least 50 percent of his shots and the group was a combined 29-for-41 from the field. As a team Southern made 59.7 percent of its shots and Grambling made 34 percent of its.
“The defense played with high octane and it led to some open-court shots,” Banks said. “I was real impressed not just with the individual defense, but also the team defense and the way we rotated back.”
The Jaguars, 13-10 and 9-1, visit Jackson State on Monday. The Tigers, who lost 73-49 at Southern four weeks ago, are 1-18 and 0-10.
After leading just 17-14, the Jaguars held Grambling to two points over four minutes and built a 14-point lead.
Southern increased the lead to 26 at halftime and never let up.
Antwan Scott led the Tigers with 11 points and Terry Rose had 10 off the bench.
Southern committed just nine turnovers and forced 19.
“We were just playing as a team,” Miller said. “Coach told us to stay focused and don’t let up.”
Many in the crowd started leaving midway through the second half, but one group was having too much fun to leave early.
Johnson, who’s from nearby Plain Dealing and played at Grambling as a freshman before transferring, had a cheering section of about 50 relatives and friends. They saw him make 7-of-8 field goals, 1-of-2 3-pointers and his only free throw. He added two assists, a rebound a steal and a blocked shot.
“They don’t always get to see me play,” Johnson said. “I was trying to play real well for my team and for my family.
“We came in at halftime and talked about playing like the score was 0-0 don’t let up, keep going at them and that’s what we did.”