The same energy Arkansas-Pine Bluff had in last Saturday’s four-point loss to SWAC leader Southern was missing two nights later when Alcorn State beat the Golden Lions by 26 points.
It showed in their play, as they produced a season-low 45 points including just three off turnovers. Alcorn State scored 17 points off 15 UAPB miscues.
“We knew they had won three games in a row, but it was a matter of us coming out lax, offensively and defensively,” UAPB forward Davon Haynes said.
Although they’re riding a three-game losing streak, there’s good news for the Lions — there are 13 games remaining, and they’re only 2 ½ games behind conference-leading Southern. A second straight winning season is still possible, but they have finish 12-1 to achieve it.
So the Lions’ two-game Texas swing — at Prairie View A&M today and Texas Southern on Monday — is very key. Both teams are 3-2 in the SWAC, just one game ahead of UAPB for fourth place in the 10-team league. Texas Southern also is the defending SWAC regular-season champion.
For coach George Ivory, it’s the Lions’ offense that’s more of a concern than the energy level.
“I wouldn’t say conditioning is bad, but anytime you are not scoring, that leads to a lot of lost confidence in what you are doing,” he said.
It’s not a new problem for UAPB. The team is 340th — sixth to last — among Division I teams in scoring at 61.1 points per game, a 22-place drop from Monday. They’re also 324th in field-goal percentage at 39.8 percent.
Despite outrebounding their opponents the past two games, the Lions have failed to reach their averages in both offensive categories.
So Ivory’s exploring the option of shaking up his starting lineup and adding a forward in sophomore Trent Whiting to give the frontcourt another scoring option. Whiting averages only 2.1 points, but he’s shooting 42.4 percent from the field and also step back to shoot the three-ball, where he’s 4 for 8 on the season.
“I might shake up the lineup,” Ivory said. “We’ve got to get something going offensively to get things going.”
Ivory wants to give center Daniel Broughton and Haynes more touches down low while looking for point guard Tevin Hammond to bounce back from his poor offensive game against Alcorn. The second-leading scorer on the team, Hammond had just three points, all on free throws.
“Anytime Tevin gets 18, 19 or 20, we at least have 65 to 70 points,” Ivory said.
Defensively, UAPB will have its hands full against a balanced Prairie View team that has six players averaging six or more points, led by Montrael Scott’s 14.6 per game. Texas Southern has four players averaging double digits, including conference scoring leader Aaric Murray (22.9), who had 48 points in a 90-89 win at Temple in December. Marshall transfer D’Aris Scarver is averaging 21.3 points through four games for Texas Southern.
Haynes said Mississippi Valley State’s 72-64 upset win over Southern on Wednesday gives the Lions confidence they can break their losing skid. The win was Valley’s first in SWAC play this season.
“This is a very important swing in Texas,” Haynes said. “These are two good teams that we are facing, especially Texas Southern. Also with Prairie View (and Texas Southern) being ahead a game, this is very important.”
Golden Lions statistical leaders
• Points: Davon Haynes 14.6 per game; Tevin Hammond 13.4; Marcel Mosley 10.3; Daniel Broughton 7.2; Ghiavonni Robinson 5.7
• Field-goal shooting: Jaylon Floyd .500 (10-20), Haynes .475 (87-183), Sean Tingle .474 (9-19), DeAndre McIntyre .457 (32-70), Trent Whiting .424 (14-33)
• Three-point shooting: Whiting .500 (4-8), Mosley .397 (27-68), Hammond .341 (31-91), Broughton .318 (7-22), Robinson .302 (19-63)
• Free-throw shooting: Robinson .867 (13-15), Mosley .816 (31-38), Hammond. 780 (71-91), Chandler Savage .778 (7-9), Broughton .652 (15-23)
• Rebounds: Haynes 7.6 per game, Broughton 4.3, Mosley 2.4, McIntyre 2.4, Robinson 2.3
• Total assists: Hammond 74, Mosley 34, Haynes 22, Savage 17, Robinson 11
• Total steals: Hammond 47, Mosley 31, Haynes 20, Savage 15, McIntyre 12