Lions ready for in-state showdown Saturday at Southern
Published 12:13 pm Friday, December 10, 2021
The Southeastern Louisiana University men’s basketball team looks to ride the momentum after Sunday’s win at Troy when they take on Southern University Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. at the F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge.
SLU (4-5) enters Saturday’s contest on the heels of an impressive 72-68 win on the road over Troy that featured for Lions scoring in double figures led by Keon Clergeot with 17 points. But it was sophomore Nick Caldwell with the play of the game for the Lions. Caldwell, out of Geismar, Louisiana, broke a 68-68 tie with a phenomenal left-hand slam on an offensive rebound with 23 seconds left.
The Lions also got 25 points from the bench as Caldwell scored 11, freshman Roger McFarlane added nine with eight of them coming during a 12-0 Lions’ run, while Matthew Strange chipped in with six.
SLU played the second half without leading scorer Gus Okafor who was injured in the first half of Sunday’s win, as well as Antonio Gordon who was out the entire game an injury. Okafor is expected to play Saturday while Gordon is day-to-day.
“I liked our next-man-up mentality in that game,” said SLU head coach David Kiefer. “A lot of guys stepped up off the bench and played key roles in the win. But we’ve got to have the mentality of getting better each day and each game and not think about that one too much.”
Through nine games, the Lions lead the Southland in scoring averaging 82.3 points per game led by Okafor. The Baltimore, Maryland native is scoring 14.8 points per game.
Senior forward Jalyn Hinton has scored in double figures in eight of nine games for the Lions. Hinton has been a force down low for SLU as he leads the Southland with 20 blocked shots. Out of Boston, Massachusetts, Hinton has been terrific at the free throw line as well shooting 82 percent (27-for-33).
Senior Keon Clergeot, who hit two big free throws to seal the Lions’ win over Troy, is scoring 11.2 points per game. The Winter Haven, Florida product has come on strong the last two games with 15 points against Western Michigan and 17 against Troy.
Southern (4-6) comes into Saturday’s showdown with the Lions coming off an 86-68 win over Lindsey Wilson College Thursday at home. The Jaguars, however, have played the majority of their schedule on the road playing eight of 10 away from home. SU has played at Akron, South Dakota, Nebraska, Louisville, Rice and 10th-ranked Kentucky. Southern also has two impressive road wins defeating Tulane 73-70 back on Nov. 13 and Tennessee State, 82-80, on Nov. 28.
The Jaguars have three players averaging in double figures, including Tyron Lyons (14.1 ppg), Brion Whitley (13.1) Jayden Saddler (10.6). Southern also shoots 39.1 percent from the three-point line, which is 23rd in the nation.
“They’re a very well-coached team that plays extremely hard,” said Kiefer. “They’re also one of the top 30 teams in the country in steals which is impressive against that kind of schedule. Defensively they do a good job of pressuring the basketball and forcing turnovers and then offensively they play with a good pace and do a good job of attacking you in transition.”
Saturday is the Lions’ 36th meeting all-time against the Jaguars with SLU leading the series, 18-17. Southeastern was won eight out of the last 10 meeting against Southern including four straight victories in Baton Rouge.
Fans can follow Saturday’s game with links to audio and stats available on the Southeastern men’s basketball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.
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