Jags Host Western Kentucky After Week Off

January 24, 2013 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's 

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The South Alabama’s men’s basketball team have had a week off to rest and prepare for their run towards the end of the regular season and into the Conference tournament. To begin that run they will host their longtime rival Western Kentucky Thursday night at the Mitchell Center at 7:05pm.

South Alabama are coming off of a 71-56 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday of last week to improve their record to 9-8 overall on the season and 6-3 in Sun Belt play. That SBC record has the Jags in sole possession of second place in the eastern division.

“The break has been good for us,” interim head coach Jeff Price said. “It’s a little different not playing on Saturday, but it gave us a chance to regroup and work on some things in practice that we haven’t been able to do, and be able to tweak some things on both ends of the floor, so it’s been good for us there. It’s been good for us to get some rest as well.”

“We broke up our off days so we weren’t off too much in a row,” Price continued. “You always have that concern that Western played on Saturday and we have to play after not playing for a week. Hopefully once the game starts we’ll get that out of the way.”

The Jags are 2-1 this season coming off of a break of a week or more. The last one was a 63-54 loss to Arkansas State on December 29th.

Western Kentucky comes in after losing four of their last five games and twice during a three-game homestand prior to their trip to Mobile. After starting the season 8-2 they have gone 3-7 since then for an overall record of 11-9 (5-4 SBC).

The Hilltoppers will be without the team’s leading scorer in Jamal Crook who has not been able to play since December 16 due to an injury. Last season he scored 24 points against the Jags at WKU and was averaging 14.5 points per game this season.

“Their obviously a good team and losing Jamal Crook really hurt them,” Price observed. “They’ve had to get their chemistry back together and find the answer at the point (guard position) and I think they’ve found that now. They’re certainly a capable basketball team and a well-coached team that has guys that are very worthy, all-conference type players.”

“They’re not quite as quick and athletic (without him),” Price noted. “He’s tremendous with the ball, pushing the ball in transition and very athletic so it makes them a little bit different.”

T.J. Price is now the leading scorer on the team with an average of 14.1 points per game. Brandon Harris averaged 19 points per game last week with 22 points against UALR was selected the Sun Belt Player of the Week earlier this week.

“Harris is a very capable shooter. He’s a streaky shooter, but when he shoots it well he’s really good,” Price obverved. “He takes care of the ball well and T.J. Price is a go-to guy that shoots the ball well from the outside and gets to the basket well. George Fant has been tremendous for them around the paint.”

Augustine Rubit scored 23 points against ULM in the teams last outing last Thursday. That was his sixth 20+ point game in his last nine games and is ranking second in the conference in scoring with an average of 19.3 points per game while also ranking first in rebounding with an average of 10.9 rebounds per game.

The Jags and the Hilltoppers tipoff at 7:05pm at the Mitchell Center.

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