Maybe it was the sting of seeing its 16-game home-court winning streak in conference play end two days earlier.
Or maybe it was the sight of a Mississippi Valley State team that had provided its only previous conference loss.
Or maybe it was the stage provided by the ESPNU telecast.
Whatever it was, the Southern men’s basketball team that defeated the Delta Devils 83-74 on Monday night in the F.G. Clark Activity Center looked a whole lot different than the one that lost to Arkansas-Pine Bluff 64-58 in the same building Saturday.
The Jaguars started fast and finished strong to improve to 15-11 and 11-2 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play as they prepare to visit Alabama A&M on Saturday.
MVSU, which defeated Southern 72-64 on Jan. 22 in Greenwood, Miss., is 8-18 and 4-9.
“The last time we played them was on our minds,” Jaguars forward Calvin Godfrey said. “We were quite upset that we let that one slip away, so we wanted to play as hard as we could from the beginning to the end.”
Malcolm Miller led Southern with a game-high 27 points, making 10-of-14 field goals, Godfrey had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Yondarius Johnson scored 11 points.
DeAngelo Priar led the Devils with 22 points, and Jordan Washington and Jeffrey Simmons had 17 each.
MVSU had a 58-57 lead until the Southern offense started clicking with a little more than six minutes left.
Miller made a layup off a feed from Godfrey, Johnson made two free throws, and Miller had a tip-in for a five-point lead.
After Priar made two free throws, Miller hit a 15-footer, Johnson made two more free throws, and Miller converted a three-point play for a 70-60 lead with 3:57 left.
Miller hit another 3-pointer for emphasis, and the Devils managed to cut the margin to single digits, but never came close to catching up.
“I challenged them a little bit, and they showed basketball character,” Jaguars coach Roman Banks said.
“They responded well, and I think they responded to a team that challenged us.
“That was a team that wasn’t going to give us anything and was going to fight us to the end.”
Southern didn’t have backup forward Damien at the end as he was sidelined after suffering a blow to the head during a scramble for a loose ball in the first half.
That led to expanded minutes for Bryce Clark, who responded with nine points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.
“Bryce came in and worked hard and did what he’s supposed to do: rebound and score when he gets the ball around the rim,” Goodwin said. “We’ve got bodies. We have people who come in and play defense and rotate.
“After a while I think we wore them out, and they didn’t have an answer for all the bodies we had.”
Southern never trailed in the first half and led 37-29 at halftime.
The lead grew to 10 points before the second-half clock started as Miller made two technical free throws after MVSU was penalized for an illegal substitution.
But that was a brief hiccup before the Devils caught fire. They made seven of their first eight shots in the second half and took their first lead of the game at 45-43.
Godfrey made consecutive baskets but Washington and Priar combined for nine points as Mississippi Valley opened a 55-47 lead.
A three-point play by Godfrey and five points by Bryce Clark helped the Jaguars pull even at 57 with seven minutes left.
Then they pulled away.
“They make you play a little faster so I felt we had attack a little more,” Banks said. “I think kind of loosened us up a little bit.”
Southern began the game with a lot more intensity than it showed against UAPB.
Javan Mitchell scored the first two baskets of the game on consecutive hook from just in front of the basket.
Trelun Banks pushed the ball and triggered a 10-0 run with a driving basket and a three. That push ended with Miller’s 3-pointer, which gave the Jaguars a 17-5 lead.
“We knew we had to get off to a good start because these guys are streaky and they can take off on you,” Miller said. “We knew we had to play solid from the beginning.
“Coach really pumped us up. He told us it was going to be war for us and we were pumped and excited to get out there.”
Southern maintained a double-digit lead until midway through the half, but gradually the Devils settled in.
Simmons scored on a drive and a 10-footer to cut the lead to seven.
Miller and Banks each made a basket, but Simmons hit a jumper, converted a three-play and added a steal and a dunk to get Mississippi Valley within one with four minutes left in the half.
Godfrey scored on a drive and Johnson made a layup extended the lead before Darryl Marshall made two free throws.
Johnson and Tre Lynch each made a 3-pointer before Priar made a free throw with three seconds left.
That sent the Jaguars into halftime with a 37-29 lead.