Five things to know about the Southern University Jaguars, who play the Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Rupp Arena. The SEC Network has the telecast.
1. Southern is coached by Sean Woods
Jerry Tipton wrote on the “Unforgettable” Sean Woods, who is in his fourth season as the coach at the Baton Rouge school. Jerry asked Woods what he remembered from his UK days when Woods was the point guard on Rick Pitino’s first teams at the school.
“Just my teammates,” Woods said. “The things we went through, the trials and tribulations . . . all the hard work we put in. It wasn’t easy. Coach was tough on us. But it was all worth it in the end.”
After taking Mississippi Valley State to the NCAA Tournament in 2012, Woods was hired by Morehead State. He was 77-70 as coach of the Eagles, but resigned nine games into the 2016-17 season after allegations of player mistreatment.
Hired by HBCU (Historically Black College or University) Southern University in 2017, Woods went 7-25 with the Jaguars in 2018-19 before improving to 17-15 in 2019-20. Last year’s team finished 8-10 in the pandemic, but was 8-6 in the SWAC.
2. Southern is currently 3-5 this season
The Jags lost at Louisville 72-60 in the season opener on Nov. 9. They followed with a 73-70 win at Tulane. Next came a three-game losing streak with Southern dropping games at Rice (81-63), South Dakota (71-68) and Nebraska (82-59). The Jaguars routed Ecclesia College 109-53 and won 82-80 at Tennessee State before losing 79-62 at Akron last Saturday.
Ken Pomeroy currently ranks Southern No. 304 in adjusted overall efficiency. The Jags are ranked No. 326 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 237 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Southern is averaging 0.923 points per possession while allowing 1.039 points per possession.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is currently 17th in the kenpom rankings. UK is 15th in adjusted offensive rankings and 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. UK is averaging 1.130 points per possession, while giving up 0.917 points per possession.
Southern is the fifth team ranked in the 300s played by UK so far this year, joining Robert Morris (303), Mount St. Mary’s (312), Albany (309) and Central Michigan (326).
3. Southern is a good three-point shooting team
The Jaguars are shooting 39.2 percent from three-point range against Division I teams, which ranks 22nd nationally. They don’t shoot a high number of three-pointers, averaging 19.2 attempts and 7.1 makes per game. In all games, Southern is 57-of-148 from three for 38.5 percent.
Southern was 12-of-20 from three-point range in its win over Tennessee State and 8-of-19 in its victory over Tulane. It went 7-of-15 from three against South Dakota.
Southern has struggled on the boards, however. Woods’ club ranks 328th in offensive rebound percentage at 21.7.
4. Tyrone Lyons leads the Jaguars in scoring
A 6-foot-7 junior from North Amityville, New York, Tyrone Lyons transferred to Southern after being suspended at fellow SWAC school North Carolina A&T. After averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds last season at North Carolina A&T, Lyons is averaging 14.3 points per game this season for the Jaguars.
Lyons has scored in double figures in six of Southern’s eight games, including the last three. He scored 25 points in the blowout win over Ecclesia College, 16 in the win at Tennessee State and 13 against Akron.
Brion Whitley, a 6-4 junior from Sarasota, Fla. is averaging 13.5 points per game. He transferred to Southern from Murray State, where he averaged 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds a season ago.
Damien Sears, a 6-7 senior, leads the team in rebounds at 6.5 per game. Sears grabbed 14 rebounds in the opener against Louisville.
5. A SWAC team upset Florida on Monday night
Texas Southern shocked No. 16 Florida 69-54 in Gainesville on Monday night. The SWAC was previously 51-0 against SEC teams ranked in the AP Top 25. And Texas Southern entered the game 0-7 having lost to Oregon, St. Mary’s, Washington, Air Force, North Carolina State, BYU and Louisiana Tech.
Coached by former LSU coach Johnny Jones, Texas Southern shot 54.4 percent from the floor while holding Florida to 38.2 percent. The Tigers doubled the Gators on the board 46-23. Florida made just five of 23 attempts from three-point range.
Said Florida coach Mike White, ““We were thoroughly outplayed, outcoached, out-everything.”