BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tigers of Texas Southern University will play for their consecutive Toyota Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship after defeating Alabama State 80-66 in the semifinal round Friday.
Jeremy Combs recorded his 11th double-double of the season for the Tigers (21-12), scoring 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and pulling in 18 rebounds. Trayvon Reed chipped in 15 points off the TSU bench, going 6-for-7 from the floor, most of which came on slam dunks.
The Tigers will face in-state rival Prairie View A&M in the tournament championship game Saturday at 5 p.m.; the game will be aired on ESPNU. TSU was the only team to defeat Prairie View in SWAC play this season, as the Tigers overcame a 21-point deficit to claim a 95-90 victory at H&PE Arena in February.
Jalyn Patterson and Tyrik Armstrong scored 11 points each for the Tigers on Friday. Alabama State’s Leon Daniels scored a team-high 24 points for the Hornets, who finish the season with a 12-19 record.
The Tigers got off to a slow start as Alabama State jumped out to a 9-2 lead. However, TSU regrouped after the first media timeout of the game, and would take its first lead of the game when Patterson knocked down a 3-pointer with 14:04 remaining in the first half to give the Tigers an 11-10 advantage.
Despite practically playing a road game less than 100 miles away from the Alabama State campus, the Tigers were able to set the pace of the game from that point on. They used a 13-3 run between the 13:10 and 9:30 marks of the first period to build a 26-18 lead.
Alabama State would get as close as three points with roughly five minutes to play in the first half, but the Tigers finished the period by scoring the last seven points to take a 40-30 lead into halftime. Armstrong scored the last five points himself, knocking down a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
The Tigers continued to add to their lead after halftime, scoring the first seven points following the midgame break. Alabama State eventually cut the TSU lead to single-digits late in the second half, but by then the Tigers had built a safe enough lead to coast to the victory.
TSU shot better than 50 percent from the field each half, and finished the game shooting 52.6 percent from the floor (30 of 57).
The win was TSU’s 15th consecutive triumph over Alabama State. It also marked the Tigers’ 16th win in their last 17 games at the SWAC Tournament.