South Alabama Basketball seniors unfortunately won’t have any hardware in their trophy case, but should still hold their heads high. A late run capped off the most makeshift perfect way to end their careers.
With the 2019 season coming to a halt due to the COVID 19 virus, South Alabama Basketball along with the rest of college basketball was left wondering. Wondering what could’ve been. After landing the two seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, South Alabama wasn’t even able to get a game in before every conference canceled its tournament. With all that being said the 2019 Jaguars have nothing to hang their heads about.
South Alabama finished (20-13) with a (13-7) conference record, riding an eight-game win streak to close out the season. In his second season in Mobile, Coach Richie Riley lead the Jags to their first 20 win season since 2009. The Jaguars got most of their productivity from their seniors. Josh Ajayi led the way averaging 14.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds, helping earn himself a spot on the all Sun Belt first team. The biggest difference from the 2018 team to 2019 was Chad Lott.
Lott was a grad transfer from Howard who gave the cougars 13.5 points and 5.6 boards per game. Fellow seniors Andre Fox and Trhae Mitchell did a little bit of everything for the Jags. Both put up double-digit points, around three rebounds, and were the leading force on the defensive end.
The season started off with a blowout win over Division II Pikeville and a win over Southern Miss. In the rest of the non-conference, the Jaguars collected a win over good a mid-major Northeastern and almost pulled the years first upset, taking 22nd ranked Auburn to the wire only to fall by one. The senior-led Jaguars entered conference play 7-6. Conference play started off slow, going 1-3 with bad losses to Appalachian State and UL Monroe. Just then things got a little bumpy.
After winning a big conference win over Arkansas Little Rock the Jaguars went on a skid dropping three of their next four. And then things started to click. The Jaguars would go on to win 8 straight games riding into the soon to be canceled Sun Belt Tournament. With getting the quadruple bye, South Alabama would’ve most likely had to beat Texas State, a team they just beat a week prior and the Arkansas Little Rock to punch their ticket to the big dance. In another universe, if the Jaguars managed to get in they were looking at a 15 or 16 seed. With their length and shooting, no blue blood wanted them in the first round.
No one will ever know if the Jaguars would have punched their ticket to the dance for the first time since 2008 but the 2020 senior class went out on top with a lot of momentum down the stretch. These kids can play the “what if” game for the rest of their lives.