Early leaders in each conference

BCSP Editor

Conference play began last week and here are the early results and upcoming games.

Two-time defending champion Texas Southern (3-0, 4-11) extended its lead atop the SWAC race with a home win Saturday over Prairie View (64-38). Six-five grad forward Orlando Coleman led a balanced TSU attack with 12 points.

Meanwhile, Southern (2-2) knocked Jackson State (3-1) from the league unbeaten ranks with a 74-66 win Monday. Grambling (2-2), who started 2-0 in league play, dropped decisions to Alcorn State (69-53) and Southern (66-61). Six-one senior guard Christopher Hyder had 18 for Southern in the win over Jackson State. Six-four senior Adrian Rodgers led the Jaguars with 19 points in the win over Grambling. Texas Southern plays at Jackson State Saturday. JSU then hosts Prairie View Monday. Southern is at Mississippi Valley State Monday.

Defending tournament champion Hampton (4-0, 9-7), got close wins over Bethune-Cookman (75-70) and Florida A&M (71-65 in OT) to jump to the top of the conference race while former front-runner North Carolina A&T (2-2, 5-13) had close road losses at Savannah State (75-68) and South Carolina State (92-85). Hampton senior guard Reginald Johnson averaged 19.5 points in the two wins, getting 18 vs. B-CU and 21 vs. FAMU to lead the Pirates. SCSU (3-1, 8-10) also got a big 91-75 home win Saturday over North Carolina Central to move into second place behind Hampton. 6-2 sophomore guard Ed Stephens had 23 points in both wins while 6-3 junior transfer guard Eric Eaves got 27 vs. A&T.

Hampton makes its North Carolina swing this week thru A&T Saturday and NC Central Monday. SC State hosts Delaware State Saturday and Maryland-Eastern Shore Monday. At 2-1 in league play, Bethune-Cookman plays in Baltimore Saturday vs. Coppin State and Monday at Morgan State. Norfolk State (2-1) plays at NCCU Saturday and at A&T Monday. Howard (2-1), after a suspended game vs. DelState Saturday, has Harvard (and perhaps President Obama as a guest) into Burr Gymnasium Saturday.

Head coach Leon Douglas has Miles (6-0 W, 7-6) with a half-game lead over Kentucky State (6-1, 7-4) and 1 1/2 game lead over Stillman (4-1, 10-5) in the SIAC West Division. Benedict (5-2, 10-6) has built a 2 1/2-game lead in the East. Miles, has not played since knocking off Benedict (76-70) on Jan. 4. The Golden Bears return to action Thursday hosting Central State and then host Kentucky State Saturday. Josh Samuels is averaging 17 points per game and 6-1 junior guard Maiscei Grier is scoring 14.3 ppg. to lead Miles.

After Miles, Kentucky State travels to Tuskegee on Saturday. Stillman faces Morehouse in Chicago Saturday as part of an SIAC doubleheader which also has Clark Atlanta playing Albany State. Benedict, coming off a 84-70 win over LeMoyne-Owen, hosts Spring Hill Thursday. Six-three senior guard Jordan Smith is currently leading the Tigers in scoring at 14.3 points per game.

Virginia State (1-0 N, 5-0, 10-3) and Chowan (0-0, 5-0, 12-3) of the North Division stayed undefeated in conference play by continuing their sweep of South Division foes with key home victories. Virginia State took down Winston-Salem State 84-75 on Thursday and defeated two-time defending tournament champion Livingstone 87-79 Saturday. The Trojans hosted Johnson C. Smith on Tuesday. Six-eight junior forward Elijah Moore averaged 18 points and six rebounds in the two wins. He had 21 points and six boards vs. WSSU and 15 points and six rebounds vs. Livingstone. Chowan squeaked by Johnson C. Smith on Thursday, dealt WSSU a 84-67 thrashing on Saturday and then knocked off Livingstone 73-70 on Monday.

Chowan’s 5-8 point guard Kortez Smith, who has scored in double figures in 14 straight games, averaged 19.6 points per game in the three wins. He had 15 points, seven assists and three steals including the winning 18-foot basket with :03 seconds left in the two-point win over JCSU Thursday. He then poured in a game high 26 points, dished out 5 assists and had 3 steals in the win over WSSU. He came back to get 18 points, 3 assists and 2 steals in the win over Livingstone.

Smith is currently ninth in the league in scoring averaging 16.2 points per game Shaw (4-1, 7-10), after losing to Chowan 74-58 last Monday, is the only South Division team faring well against the North. The Bears, with former head coach Joel Hopkins back in the saddle, got wins over Virginia Union (58-56), Bowie State (70-68) and Lincoln (88-61). Six-three junior guard Larry Richardson averaged 20 points in the three wins including 32 points vs. Lincoln.

Division play begins in earnest Saturday. In the North, Chowan hosts Elizabeth City State Saturday and then has a big showdown at home vs. Virginia State on Wednesday. VSU and Virginia Union meet Sunday in their annual MLK Day game in Richmond, Va. Shaw goes to Livingstone Saturday and hosts WSSU Wednesday. Livingstone is at Fayetteville State Wednesday. JCSU is at Fayetteville State Saturday and hosts St. Aug’s Wednesday.

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