Alabama State gets SWAC tournament wake-up call with in-state rival

Just when you get ready to crown Alabama State, they go and lose to Grambling — slumping into the SWAC men’s basketball tournament. Luckily, there is an old friend in the form of in-state league rival Alabama A&M to wake up the Hornets.

Alabama State, which opens Southwestern Athletic Conference postseason play on March 10, was in the midst of an eight-game winning streak when it suffered that one-point loss to Grambling over the weekend. Going in, the Hornets had topped eventual No. 3-seed Mississippi Valley State by 27 on Feb. 7, eventual conference champion Texas Southern by 12 on Feb. 28 and then eventual No. 2-seed Jackson State by 10 on March 3.

Then, thud.

They’d fashioned that run on defense — forward Chris Duncan was named the SWAC’s defensive player of the year, averaging almost two blocks a night — but, once again, needed just a bit more offense. Alabama State finished the year without a single player in the top 30 for scoring in league matches.

The Hornets and Alabama A&M split their regular season matchups, with both teams winning at home. Duncan was the star for his team during its Feb. 12 victory in Montgomery, Ala., scoring 19 and adding 15 rebounds. The Bulldogs will answer with forward DeMarquelle Tabb, the league-leader in blocks.

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