FLORENCE — Trying to recover from a loss has become a Christmas tradition for North Alabama coach Bobby Champagne.
That tradition continued this year as the Lions dropped their final game before the Christmas break when Tennessee Temple stunned UNA 71-68 on Dec. 8. It was the first loss of the season for the Lions (8-1) and gave Champagne and his team more than three weeks to live with the
“I haven’t gone back and looked but I can’t remember a Christmas break where we weren’t coming off a loss,” Champagne said. “The good thing was that we practiced some before the break, so we
had a chance to get it out of our system.
“It was disappointing to enter the break with a loss, but if someone had told me before the season that we would be 8-1 at the break I would have gladly taken it.”
The Lions finally get back on the court today when they host Georgia Southwestern. Tipoff at Flowers Hall is at 3 p.m.
Champagne said the Lions have spent much of practice time just getting back in game condition.
“We had a long time off and came back a little out of shape,” he said. “Of course that would have happened if we had four days off, but 14 days off really makes it tough. We finally got our legs back the last day or so and hopefully we’ll be OK.”
UNA played at Georgia Southwestern (6-2) in the fourth game of the season and came away with a 64-58 victory. Rashaun Claiborne scored 14 points in the win for UNA.
“It’s a good game for us because playing Georgia Southwestern is like playing a Gulf South Conference team,” Champagne said. “They are going to run their offense effectively and really guard you. They haven’t lost since we beat them, so obviously they are playing well.”
UNA will be without junior forward Lonnie Smith for the remainder of the season. The transfer from Louisiana Tech will undergo knee surgery and hopes to be granted a medical redshirt. Smith is averaging 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Claiborne leads UNA in scoring at 16.7 points per game. Junior forward Bruce Adams (14.9 ppg.), senior center DeAndre Hersey (12.1 ppg.), and junior guard Marquel Darrington (10.8 ppg.) also average scoring in double figures.
The Lions jump back into conference play later this week, playing at Christian Brothers on Thursday and at Delta State on Saturday.
“We have to change gears quickly as we get back into conference play,” Champagne said. “This game will help us get ready for two tough conference games. We need to play well and try to get rolling again.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.