Taking away Rubit key to beating South Al

Brad Stephens

Sun Belt Conference post players don’t get much better than Augustine Rubit.

South Alabama’s 6-foot-6 forward was named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in 2011 after scoring 13.1 points and grabbing 11 rebounds per game.

Rubit is back at it for the Jaguars this season, leading USA in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg).

That’s why Interim Head Coach Ray Harper said WKU’s defensive game plan when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Saturday in Diddle Arena will be to deny the ball to both Rubit and fellow USA forward Antione Lundy (8.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg).

“It’s going to be a team effort,” Harper said. “The first thing we want to do is not allow them a lot of touches in the post. If we can limit the number of times they get the basketball in the post, we’ll be a lot better served.

“Once they do get the basketball in the post, we’ve got to do a better job at times of mixing up how we guard those guys, and give them some different looks as well.”

WKU kept Rubit under control in 2011, holding him to 11 and 10 points apiece in the team’s two meetings.

But junior guard Jamal Crook said the Toppers’ key to stopping Rubit Saturday may not necessarily be keeping off the scoreboard, but keeping him off the glass.

“He’s a great rebounder,” Crook said. “One thing that Coach harped about was that they’re an excellent rebounding team, so I know he’s an excellent rebounder. We’re just going to have shut him out as far as getting rebounds or do the best we can.”

Offensively Harper said the Toppers will look to do a better job putting the ball in the basket.

WKU (7-15, 3-6 Sun Belt) won its most recent game last Saturday 61-51 over Florida International despite shooting just 27.6 percent for the game, including an 0-for-15 slump to start the game.

“We’re playing well. We’re just not making shots from time to time,” Harper said. “It’s going to happen soon, we’ve got too many good shooters.

“You have to be a good defensive team, rebound the basketball, and those nights where your shots are really going in — now you’re in business.”

A Topper win on Saturday would move them past South Alabama up to third in the Sun Belt East Division.

Still Crook said WKU players are concerned with the here and now, rather than positioning for Sun Belt Tournament seedings.

“I haven’t really payed attention to it lately,” he said. “Just one game at a time, take everything striding to get better — step-by-step.

“In conference, standings don’t even matter… Anyone can win it.”