Busting Brackets

SWAC Basketball: How Grambling State was able to run away from Southern U in a key win

2023 NBA All Star - HBCU Classic
2023 NBA All Star - HBCU Classic / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

A highly anticipated game turned into a one-sided second-half runaway as Grambling State (7-11, 4-1 SWAC) defeated Southern University (9-9, 3-2 SWAC) 79-62. The Tigers won their third straight SWAC game, meanwhile, the Jaguars lost their second game in a row.

As I stated in my preview, this would be a clash in styles and that definitely was the case on Saturday afternoon. Grambling has now defeated Southern two games in a row dating back to last season. If you are a Grambling fan this game was business as usual for you, as the Tigers have continued to be a SWAC contender for the last 3 years. If you're a Southern fan, there are plenty of questions to be asked as the Jags have blown double-digit leads in back-to-back games. Let's take a look a how my three keys played a role in this game.

1. Defense is the name of the game

It took about 25 minutes but Grambling's defense finally took control of the game. After allowing Southern to score 39 first-half points, the Tigers tightened up early in the second half to put themselves in position to make the run they needed to take the lead for good. Southern was held to 23 second-half points and 24 percent from the field. Southern also was 0-8 from three-point range in the second half. Defense was my number one key because I felt like that would be Grambling's best chance to control this game. On the flipside, Southern won't win many games allowing 46 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent shooting from three-point range.

2. Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

The first-half tempo favored Southern as they were able to build an early 15-point lead. But Southern's strength is the three ball and they never were able to make any shooting 2-17 (11 percent) from deep. Although the Jags won the turnover battle (15 to 17) and had more points off of turnovers (20 to 18), they were unable to get out and run. Credit goes to Grambling for getting back on defense. The second half was all Grambling as their zone defense stifled Southern and led to easy offense. A great way to control tempo is by getting to the free throw line. Grambling did a great job there going 25-34 from the line.

3. X-Factors

The final and most important key was the X-Factors. The first factor was experience, Grambling's team play and coaching consistency won out. Southern has to continue to develop the chemistry needed to win on the road. Coach Kevin Johnson's first SWAC road trip finished at 1-2. With two blown second-half leads. This isn't the end for either team as there are still 13 conference games left. We will see how much each team has learned when they meet again in February. I highlighted Kintavious Dozier for Grambling and he didn't disappoint.

Scoring a game-high 27 points and hitting 3 3's. He constantly made big plays to keep Grambling in the game in the first half. The Jags could not contain Dozier. Tai'Ron “Scootah” Joseph, the SWAC's leading scorer led the Jags with 23 points. He only made 1 of 11 three-point attempts. The saying is “Big-time players make big-time plays” and if Joseph is going to be the guy for Southern he has to be more consistent in key times.

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I predicted this game would come down to the final minutes and well…..I was wrong. Grambling is tied for 1st place at 4-1 in the SWAC. Southern drops to a tie for 5th place at 3-2 in the SWAC. 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. This is your tour guide around the SWAC signing out.