It didn’t take long for the comparing of scores to take place.
- UALR lost by 2 to North Florida while Southern beat North Florida by 9
- UALR lost to Middle Tennessee by 17 while Southern lost to Middle Tennessee by 3.
- UALR lost to Florida by 30 while Southern lost to Florida by 14.
So it appears Southern has a huge advantage tonight as the Jaguars (1-4) host UALR (0-3) in Baton Rouge, La.
Maybe they do. Southern is better than the typical SWAC team. They nearly knocked off Gonzaga in last year’s NCAA Tournament. And I've seen them play twice on television. It will take a solid effort from UALR to win this game. But getting a read on the game by comparing scores is difficult.
I don’t like comparing scores because every game is different. One sequence in a game can turn it good or bad in a big way. It can make games that are blowouts seem much closer. And it can make games with close scores look like blowouts.
Take UALR’s and Southern’s games against Florida.
UALR and Florida were tied 26-26 and the game was still a five-point contest with 12 minutes remaining. Then Florida went on a big run and blew UALR away by 30 points.
Florida and Southern was just the opposite. Florida jumped on Southern from the start and held an 35-19 lead at halftime. Florida had extended that lead to 18 points two minutes into the second half. That’s when the Gators lost their point guard to injury. Southern outscored Florida 33-31 the rest of the way and it ended up being much more respectable in the box score with a 67-53 final. That 14-point final margin was the closest the Jaguars got in the second half.
And Middle Tennessee lost at Florida last night with Florida still playing without its primary point guard.
What does it mean? It means that comparing scores without comparing the way the games were played can be meaningless.
Southern is a dangerous opponent. Calvin Godfrey had 18 points and 9 rebounds against Florida. And Malcolm Miller, who might be the best scorer on the Jaguars, only had 2 points and 5 rebounds against the Gators. But he’s much better than that.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Win the 2: UALR hasn’t had much production from the 2 guard position at this point. But there is potential. Tonight’s the night when UALR needs a boost here.
2. Re-do Rebound: UALR was sold rebounding the ball against Middle Tennessee. It can’t afford a letdown tonight.
3. Free thinking: The fact that UALR went to the free throw line so many times against Middle Tennessee had nothing to do with the new NCAA rules. It was about the aggressive nature with which the Trojans attacked the basket. UALR needs to attack Southern again tonight.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS?
There doesn’t appear to be a line yet but we’d expect Southern to be favored by a couple of points.