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Three-Point Play: Mitchell Center presenting winning environment for South Alabama hoops
South Alabama's Mychal Ammons swats away a William Carey shot attempt in Monday's win at the Mitchell Center. Solid defense and success on the home court have aided the Jaguars' cause early int he season. (Photo by Chip English, courtesy of South Alabama)

- Here is a Three-Point Play following 's win over William Carey Monday night. The Jaguars are now 2-1 on the season and getting ready for this weekend'sat the Mitchell Center - three games in three days, starting Friday.

HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE: OK, so maybe the Jags don't sell out the Mitchell Center for home games. OK, so it's not even remotely close to a sellout for home games at the Mitchell Center. The fans who show up are generally into the game, the pep band offers some noise/momentum for the home team and there is definitely an advantage for South Alabama when it plays there, at least recently.

The Jags' 76-53 win over William Carey at The Mitch on Monday marked the ninth consecutive homecourt win for South Alabama dating back to last season. That's the 10th best win streak in school history. The school record is 19 straight, dating from Dec. 13, 1973 to Feb. 19, 1974.

The last team to beat South Alabama on its home floor was Middle Tennessee back on Jan. 5 of this year. Since then, USA has beaten Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky, Florida International, Troy, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas (all last season), Detroit and William Carey at home.

South Alabama has an opportunity to add three more to that total before the week is done. The CBE Hall of Fame Classic begins Friday night at The Mitchell Center. USA will face Southern Miss in a 7:05 p.m. CST game that night, following a 4:05 p.m. game between Wright State and Houston Baptist. On Saturday at 1:05 p.m., the Jags play Wright State (with Southern Miss playing Houston Baptist at 3:05) and Sunday the Jags take on Houston Baptist at 2:05 p.m.

And, if ' team continues to produce the kind of play it has in its first three games, there's a good chance the attendance figures will rise for home games.

FREE THROW SHOOTING: The Jags beat William Carey by 23 points on Monday. If they had had a bit of success at the free throw line, the margin could have been much higher. South Alabama made just 14-of-30 attempts at the free throw line, a bad figure that was really evident from the team's best player - and usually solid free-throw shooter; he made 79.5 percent of his attempts last season - Augustine Rubit, who was just 2-of-12. Dionte Ferguson was 0-for-4 on the night.

For the season South Alabama is hitting 63.4 percent of its free throw attempts (45-of-71) while its opponents are making 62.5 percent (35-of-58). The thing to note there is that South Alabama is getting to the line at a greater frequency than its opponents. The Jags were 12-of-19 at Texas and 17-of-25 against Detroit.

As for Rubit, he was 9-of-12 in the first two games, so it would appear the William Carey performance could be written off as simply "one of those nights.''

"Not concerned about it,'' Graves said after the game when asked about the free throw shooting performance of his team. "We can make a big deal out of it, but you look at the Texas game and we shot almost 80 percent as a team. Tonight, if you had told me Aug would be 2-for-12 from the free throw line I wouldn't have believed it. It's one of those things that happens; you don't want it to happen. What we've got to understand as a team and Aug has to understand as an individual, is you can't let what just happened affect the next play, and he let it affect the next play, the next play and the next play. So it's a learning experience for him and I have the utmost confidence that any of those guys will step up and make free throws in the next game. We're going to keep practicing the same way.''

PLAYING BIG D: South Alabama's defensive play in its first three games has been strong. William Carey is a team that had scored 61 points in one half of a recent game yet scored just 53 total against the Jags, who allowed the Crusaders to hit just 35.1 percent from the floor and only 25.0 percent from 3-point range. The best outing of the year came against Detroit, the Jags limiting the Titans to 28.9 percent field goal shooting and 7.1 percent accuracy from 3-point range.

In the first three games, opponents are hitting just 38.2 percent from the floor and 25.0 from 3-point range. Texas had the greatest success against the Jags with some good numbers, making 48.5 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent behind the arc.

"If we don't give up baskets in transition, our defense is very hard to score against,'' Graves said. "Our biggest concern and problem is getting our defense back and getting set. We like to see our shots go in and talk about it on the way down the floor, so if we make a basket we've got to sprint back and build a wall defensively. When we do that we're going to be a very tough team to score on all year.''



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