Two teams coming off wins more than a week ago try to make it two straight when the Alabama State Hornets visit the Southern Jaguars on Monday night. Neither the Hornets nor Jaguars have been on the court since Feb. 13 due to postponements.
Southern (5-8) moved above .500 in league play with an overtime victory at Arkansas-Pine Bluff in its last outing. The Jaguars are now 5-4 against conference competition and sitting in sixth in the SWAC standings.
Alabama State (4-8) has only played conference competition this season, with its victory over Alabama A&M in its last outing moving it up to the eighth spot in the conference standings. The Hornets have won two of their last three, though they’ll be hitting the road for the first time since Feb. 1 in this one.
If you want to bet online on this SWAC contest, Southern is an 11½-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 134½.
Hoping For A Repeat
Alabama State and Southern played earlier this season, with the Hornets making college basketball news by rallying from a double-digit deficit to win at the buzzer on a Kenny Strawbridge lay-up. While Alabama State might want to have a repeat of the final score of that, it would certainly like to avoid falling behind by double digits in this one.
Strawbridge had 16 points and 14 rebounds in that win, and the sophomore guard is second on the Hornets, averaging 10.3 points per game. He’s also second in rebounding, snagging 7.5 per contest.
Senior forward Brandon Battle holds the top spot in both of those categories on the team, averaging 12.0 points and 7.6 rebounds. Battle is the reigning SWAC Player of the Week after he had a career-high 23 points in the win over Alabama A&M.
The hottest player on the Hornets may be senior guard DJ Heath, who is averaging 18.3 points over his last three games to up his scoring average to 10.0 points per game. Alabama State is averaging just 63.8 points per game this season, but it has gone over that average in each of its last three contests, including scoring over 70 in its two wins in that span.
Needing Some Wins
The Jaguars started 3-0 in conference play but have dropped four of their last six, including the loss to Alabama State. Coach Sean Woods definitely wants his team to push the ball, as they’ve averaged 84.8 points in their last four wins and 61 points in their last four losses.
Guard Jayden Saddler is one of only two double-figure scorers for the Jaguars, averaging 10.3 points. The junior is also leading the team in assists per game with 5.3.
Guard Ahsante Shivers is averaging 10.0 points per game, and he’s also making his mark on the defensive end, averaging a team-high 1.5 steals per game. In fact, the Jaguars have four players averaging over a steal per game, with the team ranking fifth in the conference with 7.62 steals per contest.
Offensively, the Jaguars top the SWAC in assists per game with 16.08, and their 3-point shooting percentage of .332 also tops the league. Southern also has the second-best rebounding margin in the conference, grabbing 3.5 more boards than its opponents.
Closer Than You’d Think
The college basketball odds don’t give the Hornets much of a chance in this game, but the Jaguars haven’t exactly been dominant of late. Having dropped four of six games and losing to the Hornets the last time they faced them doesn’t make the Jaguars an overwhelming pick.
This one should be tight again, with both teams well-rested after a week off and hungry for a second straight win heading into the last couple of weeks of the season.
With that in mind, when doing your college basketball picks, take the Hornets to keep this one within 11½ points. They might not win again, but they’ll at least make the Jaguars sweat.