SWAC race going down to the wire

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2000

We’re just about to the halfway point of the Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball season and so far it looks like a four-team race.

Conference leaders Alcorn State and Southern meet Saturday in Baton Rouge, La., and by the time the dust settles the season will be halfway over and there will be one team sitting in first place at 8-1.

Alcorn and Southern enter the game with identical 7-1 SWAC records.

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Alcorn is 10-7 overall, while Southern is 9-7.

Alabama A&M lost to Southern and Alcorn in its last two games to fall to 5-2 in conference play.

The Bulldogs led Southern 38-34 at halftime.

Texas Southern is currently 4-2 in conference play.

Jackson State, Alabama State and Mississippi Valley are all 3-4, while Prarie View is 1-5 and Grambling 0-7.

Alabama State led Southern 38-27 at halftime before getting outscored by 16 in the second half.

The Hornets shot only 35 percent from the field against Alcorn.

Misissippi Valley has handed Alcorn its only SWAC loss of the season.

Valley lost to Texas Southern 76-71 before beating PVAMU 100-82. Guard Dwayne Jefferson scored 20 points vs. TSU and 24 points with 10 boards and four steals vs. Prairie View.

Although the Panthers rank ninth in the SWAC standings, Gregory Burks now leads the league in scoring with 19.0 points a game.

Burks ranks second in assists (4.6 pg) and free throw pct. (.859).

Chris Miller of Texas Southern leads the SWAC in rebounding with 8.3 per game.

By the way, Southern comes to Alcorn Feb. 19.

Now switching to the Southeastern Conference, which also has a dogfight going on in both divisions. Some interesting notes from the traditional conference power:

Ole Miss’ Rahim Lockhart leads the SEC in double-doubles with 10.

Three players are tied with six each – Auburn’s Mamadou N’diaye, Georgia’s Anthony Evans, and Kentucky’s Jamaal Magloire.

The league continues to lead the nation with the best non-conference record at 116-33 (.779) as of January 20.

The SEC’s 77.9 winning percentage is 48 percentage points better than the next closest conference, the Big 12, at 73.1 percent.

The conference also leads the nation with 116 non-conference wins followed by the Big East with 108.

The SEC is the only conference to have three national championship coaches among its men’s basketball coaching ranks.

Arkansas, Nolan Richardson brought an NCAA title to the SEC in 1994 while

Kentucky,s Tubby Smith guided Kentucky to the national title in 1998 in his first season with Wildcats.

The third comes by way of Georgia first-year coach Jim Harrick who won the 1995 NCAA crown at UCLA.

In addition, two of the league’s current head coaches won NCAA titles as assistant coaches. Alabama’s Mark Gottfried was an asistant coach on Harrick’s 1995 staff while South Carolina’s Eddie Fogler was an assistant coach on

North Carolina’s 1982 national championship team, led by legendary Tar Heel head coach Dean Smith.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.