Southern men can complete perfect home season Saturday

The Southern men’s basketball team is 11-0 at F.G. Clark Activity Center and needs just one more victory to complete its home schedule unbeaten.

Wouldn’t you know it? Alcorn State stands in the way.

The Braves handed Southern its first loss of the Southwestern Athletic Conference season, a 61-57 upset Jan. 26 in Lorman, Miss., after the Jaguars had won 10 straight overall and eight in a row in league play.

The rematch comes Saturday as Jameel Grace, Madut Bol, Derick Beltran and Brandon Moore play their final home game.

Should the Jaguars (19-8, 13-2) complete their home schedule unbeaten, it would be the first time since it was 13-0 at home in 2006.

“Any program that’s trying to be one of the best in their league, it’s almost a necessity that you win your home games. We try to take the steps in becoming that kind of program,” coach Roman Banks said. “But at the same time, we’re just talking about winning our next game. I don’t want to put too much on them and make the game bigger than it is.”

Another home win would continue a memorable season for Southern, which posted an 8-0 start in SWAC play, the best for the program since 1990. Southern also won at Texas A&M late in nonconference play.

But Alcorn threw cold water on the hot Jaguars late last month, dealing them the first of their two conference losses. Southern later lost at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

In the first meeting, Alcorn rode the outside shooting of LeAntwan Luckett, who was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and scored 27 points. Meanwhile, Southern was 19 of 35 from the free-throw line.

“They beat us pretty good,” Banks said. “They basically beat us in all areas.”

The night it beat the Jaguars, Alcorn looked like a team that could challenge them for SWAC supremacy, but the Braves have taken a turn in the opposite direction.

Their only win since came against Grambling, which has lost every game of 2012-13 by double figures and has four games left to avoid a winless regular season. That said, the Braves (9-21, 7-8) sit only a half-game back of Alabama State in the jumbled race for the No. 2 seed in the SWAC tournament.

Southern leads Texas Southern for first place by a half-game, but neither TSU nor third-place Arkansas-Pine Bluff is eligible for the conference tournament.

Alcorn ranks second behind Southern in the SWAC in both field-goal percentage defense and scoring defense.

“Our aggressiveness will have to really be up because they come right at you,” Banks said.