Five straight victories are better than four.

Five straight victories are better than four.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff had four straight in men’s basketball until falling at Alcorn State on Monday. Now the Golden Lions (6-20, 5-8 SWAC), who are tied with Alcorn for sixth place in the SWAC, have to try and close out the regular season on another streak with five games left, starting at 7 tonight against Texas Southern at H.O. Clemmons Arena.

The winning streak the Lions did have still has given them confidence as the regular season winds down.

“I think the guys are very confident,” coach George Ivory said. “We had a spirited practice today.”

The men’s game will follow the 5 p.m. women’s game in which UAPB seeks to end the nation’s longest losing streak in NCAA men’s or women’s play at 36. The last-place Lady Lions (0-24, 0-13) will host the next-to-last Tigers (4-19, 2-10), which has lost two straight by a total of six points to Grambling State and Jackson State.

Here’s the challenging part for the Golden Lions’ two-game homestand: UAPB’s next two opponents are third and fourth in the conference. Prairie View A&M will visit Pine Bluff on Monday.

UAPB has fallen to both teams earlier this season. Texas Southern (9-15, 8-4) dominated the Lions 69-55 on Jan. 21, while Prairie View edged them 76-75 two days later.

Those are two games the Lions would like to have back, as they could otherwise be ahead of Alabama State for fifth place by a half-game.

Texas Southern has won two straight and been paced by their two leading scorers, Omar Strong (11.3 points per game) and Fred Sturdivant (9.3). Sturdivant had 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 64-57 home victory over Jackson State on Monday.

“We look at Omar Strong as a guy who can put points up,” Ivory said. “We realize the thing we didn’t do last time, we missed a lot of open shots that game (in January). We will pay close attention to Omar. We think we can keep them from being in a comfort zone.”

The comfort zone is what the Golden Lions are looking for tonight. The game will pit the top two field-goal shooting teams in the conference — Texas Southern has a 41.7 percent to 41.2 percent advantage — against each other. However, UAPB, which is led by SWAC scoring leader and dunk master Savalace Townsend (16.9 ppg), shot below its average the past three games.

“Being at home, in our comfort zone, in front of our fans, we hope that helps us out,” Ivory said.