Grambling's strong defense and size inside make them a formidable opponent for Southern. Can the Jags find a way to overcome their scoring runs?
Hello Bracket Busting family, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Charles Wells. Also known as your tour guide around the SWAC. With both teams fresh off of a two-game Florida trip, they head back to Louisiana. The Grambling State Tigers (6-11, 3-1 SWAC) host the Southern Jaguars (9-8, 3-1 SWAC) on Saturday. The Bayou Classic isn't just for football. This is an intense rivalry as well on the hardwood. Let's take a look at three important points in this SWAC game.
1. Defense is the name of the game
Grambling is a team that is known for its focus on defense. The Tigers use a mix of man-to-man and 2-3 zone to frustrate opponents. Grambling has size inside to make trips to the lane tough for opponents. Meanwhile Southern has shown the ability to get crucial stops to help fuel their scoring runs. If Grambling can take advantage inside it could be a long day for Southern.
2. Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
Neither team plays a fast tempo but the Jags will look to run a bit more than the Tigers. Southern averages 75.4 points per game. Grambling prefers the game to be slower and more physical due to its long size. The Jags are more comfortable shooting from a distance making an average of 7.4 threes per game. Southern forces more turnovers, which means winning the turnover battle will go along way towards winning the game.
The most important factor in this game is experience, the Tigers return the core of their team that advanced to the SWAC tournament finals last season. Southern has a new team only returning 4 players from last year's team. Playing games on the road can be tricky so it's important for the Jags to be totally focused.
Although the Tigers have a balanced attack, Kintavious Dozier (6’1” Guard) is a player to watch for Grambling. He leads the Tigers in scoring at 14.1 points per game. The Jags have one of the league's most explosive scorers, Tai'Ron “Scootah” Joseph. Joseph is the SWAC's leading scorer at 20.4 points per game. He's a guy that can pop off for 30-plus points on any given night. If he gets going the Jags are tough to stop.
This game will help establish one of these teams as an early frontrunner in the league. Recently this match-up has been extremely close with the game being decided in the final minutes. I expect this game to go the same way. Win or lose both teams are in action again on Saturday January 27. Grambling hosts Mississippi Valley State. Southern will take on the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.