GRAMBLING — So much for Hobdy Assembly Center being a house of horrors.
Second-year Southern coach Roman Banks seems to have rid the Jaguars of the hex that haunted the program for 11 seasons, a run of setbacks that saw each of the three coaches who preceded Banks at Southern lose every game they coached on the Grambling campus.
Banks improved to 2-0 at Grambling as Southern roared to an 82-43 win Sunday night.
“This one kept me on edge all day and all night,” Banks said. “I just know this rivalry. When these two teams lock up, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Southern (9-6, 3-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) built on Friday’s victory over preseason SWAC favorite Prairie View and remained atop the league standings heading into Tuesday’s game at Jackson State.
“It wasn’t about Grambling as much as it was about us trying to get better,” Banks said. “I think we were focused and ready to play a rivalry game. The guys had the right temperament for it.”
Grambling took a 5-4 lead on a 3-pointer by Bryant Purvis, but Derick Beltran and Javan Mitchell helped Southern quickly regain control, combining to score the game’s next 10 points. The game was never close after that.
Southern shot 49.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, and the Jaguars had a 44-24 edge on the boards.
Malcolm Miller provided his usual punch off the bench, going for 26 points to lead Southern in scoring for the third time in as many SWAC games. He went 7-for-11 beyond the arc.
Beltran had 20 points and seven rebounds for Southern, and Mitchell added 11 points and six rebounds.
For the second straight game, senior point guard Jameel Grace, who suffered a sprained shoulder in the SWAC opener, watched from the bench as freshman Christopher Hyder ran the offense. Hyder’s only points came on a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer.
Banks said Grace, whom he hoped to have back for Tuesday’s game, will be sidelined longer than he expected.
“The pain is just unbearable for him right now,” Banks said. “We were told we have to plan to be without him for maybe the next 2-3 games.”
Grambling (0-12, 0-3) remained winless on a night when it shot only 32 percent from the field and was held to 12 points in the first half. Terry Rose was the team’s only double-digit scorer with 14 points.
It was hardly the kind of night Grambling fans had grown accustomed to when Southern came to town.
Southern last year snapped a string of 11 straight losses at Grambling, but even that was a struggle. The Jaguars fell behind 16-0, then rallied for a 57-53 win.
“Even though they hadn’t won any games, you throw the records out with Grambling because it’s a rivalry game,” Beltran said. “We had to come in focused and ready to execute.”