First place at stake for Southern men

Forward Calvin Godfrey is Southern’s leading scorer and rebounder and has been for most of the season.

Center Javan Mitchell had 13 points and tied Godfrey with a team-high seven rebounds in a 66-52 victory against Alabama A&M on Saturday.

So the Jaguars potentially have strong dual inside presences, but they haven’t seen both of them be effective at the same time as often as coach Roman Banks would like.

“At the end of the day Javan and Calvin can always pose an offensive threat for the other team,” Banks said.

“I think it’s obvious that they haven’t been respecting us like that. But in order for us to win games down the stretch, we’ve got to establish both of them and not just one of them.”

Southern (10-10 overall) and Alabama State (11-6) meet approximately 8 p.m. Monday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center with first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference at stake. The Jaguars lead the league at 6-1, and the Hornets are 5-1.

Mitchell was a key factor Saturday, as Godfrey had sub-par statistics for the second consecutive game.

“We always want to establish Javan,” Banks said. “I’ve been on him pretty good in practice and given him some extra work on getting some baskets in there and establishing himself more. I just think he has the ability to give us more.

“We usually throw it in there to him, and sometimes he spits it out when I think he should try and put pressure on them, and then I want to make him more aware and focused to try and score more.”

Mitchell had seven points and five rebounds during the first half Saturday as the Jaguars led by as many as 17 points.

“It’s important to get him going,” guard Trelun Banks said. “He’s a big part of our offense. He’s a big part of our team. And he’s a senior leader. so it’s very important to try and get him involved early in the game.”

Godfrey had just two points and two rebounds in the first half. He had six points and five rebounds in the second half.

Three nights earlier in a 72-64 loss at Mississippi Valley State, Godfrey had just four points and four rebounds in the first half before finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Coach Banks said Godfrey is having to adjust to being a focus for opposing defenses.

“He’s starting to feel the effect of everybody knowing who he is,” Banks said. “He has to become smarter and more efficient and not just play on his natural ability. But his toughness and rebounding still make a difference.”

This game matches the two best defensive teams in the SWAC. Southern is first in scoring defense (63.6 points per game) and Alabama State is second (66.9).

These are the only teams in the conference with a positive scoring margin for the season. The Jaguars are plus-6.9 and the Hornets are plus-5.1.