The Jackson State Tigers go for a 10th straight conference victory when they play host to the Alabama A&M Bulldogs in a SWAC contest on Thursday night. The Tigers are still in second in the conference standings, trailing Prairie View AM, which is 11-0 against SWAC opponents. Both of the Tigers’ games against Prairie View AM were canceled.
Also among the 12 postponements or cancellations for Jackson State (9-5), this season was a Jan. 2 game at Alabama AM. The Bulldogs come into this contest having dropped five straight, including a 10-point decision to Texas Southern on Monday.
Alabama AM (6-7) is currently 4-7 in conference play, good for seventh place in the standings.
If you’re going to bet online on this game, Jackson State is a 7½-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 127.
It has not been an easy season for the Bulldogs, who haven’t had a win since Feb. 8 and haven’t won away from home since beating the college basketball odds and winning the season opener at Samford on Nov. 29.
Sophomore forward Jalen Johnson leads Alabama AM in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.7 points and 7.2 rebounds, averages that rank among the SWAC’s top five. He’s shooting 58.2% from the field as well, which leads the conference.
Johnson has scored in double figures in each of the last four contests, and he’s coming off a double-double against Texas Southern of 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Guard Garrett Hicks is the other double-figure scorer for the Bulldogs, averaging 13.2 points per game. He’s also averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals, the latter of which is tied for sixth in the SWAC this season.
What success Alabama AM has had this season has come mostly thanks to a defense that ranks third in the conference, allowing 67.5 points per game. The Bulldogs are second in the SWAC, holding opponents to 39.8% shooting from the field.
The Tigers made college basketball news by edging Arkansas-Pine Bluff in overtime on Monday to stay perfect in conference play. Senior Tristan Jarrett once again led the way, scoring 32 points, including going 14-of-14 from the free-throw line.
On the season, Jarrett is averaging a conference-best 20.9 points per game, including a team-high 34 3-pointers. Jarrett is also contributing 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.
Junior Jayveous McKinnis is also having a standout campaign, averaging a double-double with 12.7 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. McKinnis is shooting 54.6% from the field and averaging 2.3 blocks per game, which easily leads the SWAC.
Jackson State isn’t a high-scoring team, ranking ninth in the league with 64.1 points per game, but the Tigers’ defense is second-best in the conference, allowing 64.0 points per game. Opponents are shooting just 40% against Jackson State, including 32.7% from 3-point range, and the Tigers force 15.6 turnovers per game by the opposition.
Even though Alabama AM is on a losing streak, it should give Jackson State a bit of a fight thanks to its defense. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs haven’t scored as many as 60 points in their last six contests.
The Tigers are trying to stay perfect and head into next week’s conference tournament with some momentum. Look for Jarrett to have a big game scoring as Jackson State pulls away at home.
When making your college basketball picks, take the Tigers to win and cover at home.