The Texas Southern Tigers are headed to the NCAA tournament after defeating Arkansas Pine-Bluff, 84-69, for the SWAC tournament championship Saturday at Delmar Fieldhouse.
On Sunday, the NCAA Selection Committee made the Tigers a No. 16 seed, and they will play in a First Four in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday against North Carolina Central of the MEAC.
These two teams are both HBCUs, and this will be the first time that two HBCUs will meet in the NCAA tournament.
Whoever wins the First Four game will play the No. 1 seeded Xavier in the next round.
The Tigers and North Carolina Central had one common opponent this season and that was Southern University. The Tigers swept Southern this season in conference play, while North Carolina Central defeated them by 13 points earlier in nonconference.
North Carolina Central likes to work the ball inside to their big man Raasean Davis. He leads the team in points with 15 per game, as well as rebounds with eight per game.
The Tigers’ Marquis Salmon, Lamont Walker and Trayvon Reed will have to play big if the Tigers want to move on in the tournament. Reed had a double-double in SWAC tournament championship with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Tigers will have the size advantage at center since Reed is 7-foot-2, while Davis is 6-foot-9.
The Tigers have three players that can score 30 points on any given day in Donte Clark, Demontrae Jefferson and Derrick Bruce. All three of them have scored over 30 points at least twice this season, and Clark had a 40-point game in conference play.
The Tigers’ keys to victory are staying out of foul trouble, no mental mistakes and having three players scoring in double figures. If the Tigers can do all three of those things they can come out victorious on Wednesday.
Tigers coach Mike Davis was unhappy that his team was chosen to play North Carolina Central due to the fact that Davis has a good relationship with North Carolina Central’s head coach, Levelle Moton.
These two teams have made it to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, but the Tigers only have two players in Walker and Jefferson who played in that game last year.
The Texas Southern Lady Tigers fell in the semifinals to the eventual SWAC tournament champion Grambling State, 66-59, without SWAC Player of the Year Joyce Kennerson in
Kennerson wasn’t in attendance for the Lady Tigers game on Friday for “personal reasons” is what I was told by the Lady Tigers’ Head Coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry.
The Lady Tigers kept themselves in the game due to slowing the pace down and having multiple scorers in double figures.
The Lady Tigers had a three-point lead going into the halftime break but Grambling’s defense and their star player Shakyla Hill were just too much for them.
Grambling’s defense forced the Lady Tigers to have 24 turnovers in the game.
The Lady Tigers were led by Taylor Robinson who had 17 points and eight rebounds. Robinson was named to the SWAC All-Tournament team. Kaitlyn Palmer was the second scorer with 16 points.
The Lady Tigers had no issues with Alabama State in the quarterfinals defeating them, 70-42.
The defense was key for the Lady Tigers as they allowed Alabama State to shoot just 32 percent from the field. They forced Alabama State to turn the ball over 22 times compared to the Lady Tigers 12 times.
The Lady Tigers’ Kennerson had 27 points to lead the way. Kennerson also became the Lady Tigers’ second-leading scorer in school history.
The Lady Tigers only had two seniors on the team in Kaitlyn Palmer & Nycolle Smith. The Lady Tigers should remain in the top of the SWAC next season.
The Lady Tigers are hosting their first ever postseason on Thursday in Women’s Basketball Invitational against Weber State.
Weber State is out of the Big Sky Conference, they finished their regular season (20-10). They finished third in the Big Sky this season. They are led by Larryn Brooks, who averaged 20 points a game.