Tigers Take Down Top-Seeded Alcorn State In Tourney Opener
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Texas Southern’s SWAC Tournament first round winning streak will continue as the Tigers defeated top-seeded Alcorn State 66-62 in its tourney opener Wednesday night inside Bartow Arena.
TSU, which hasn’t lost a SWAC Tournament opener since 2008, entered as its lowest seed since 2008 and drew SWAC Regular Season Co-Champion Alcorn State in the tourney for the third straight year. Despite the pre-tournament rankings, history said it would be another battle down to the wire and it was.
The first half began like a heavyweight fight as neither team held more than a four-point lead along with eight ties and six lead changes. TSU would win the rebounding battle but ASU’s bench was its secret weapon as they outscored TSU 17-6.
TSU drew to within 28-27 on a Davon Barnes’ layup with 38 seconds left but ASU’s Byron Joshua scored off a putback as the Braves led 30-27 at the half.
Kolby Granger opened the second half with a game-tying three-pointer followed by a John Walker III free throw and a Davon Barnes’ driving layup which moved TSU ahead 33-32. With 16:54 remaining, TSU saw its two post players in Walker III and Joirdon Karl Nicholas saddled with three fouls each. Despite the fouls, head coach Johnny Jones remained with his grad students as Walker III moved TSU back ahead 34-32 with a layup.
With 15:34 left, Granger found Walker III with a nice assist as Walker’s three-point play the old-fashioned way moved TSU ahead 38-34. From there, it was all TSU as the Tigers went on a 13-0 run over the next 4:27 which saw them surge ahead of the Braves 50-34 as Walker III and Nicholas combined for nine points as TSU went 5-of-7 from the field during that span while also forcing six ASU turnovers.
With 9:38 left, Nicholas was whistled for his fourth foul and had to exit the game. The tide would turn completely as the top-seeded Braves refused to go away as they went on a 24-9 run fueled by six TSU turnovers over the next 8:11 to draw within 59-58 with 2:11 left.
With 1:55 left, PJ Henry was fouled on a defensive switch and hit two big free throws for a 61-58 lead. ASU missed its next basket and Henry was there again when called with a huge jumper to increase the lead to 63-58 at the 1:13 mark.
ASU’s Byron Joshua missed a three-pointer and Nicholas grabbed a big rebound but TSU committed a turnover which allowed the Braves to regain possession. Joshua was fouled immediately and hit two free throws to draw ASU within 63-60.
Nicholas made a huge layup with 30 seconds left for a 65-60 lead but ASU quickly answered with a basket to trail 65-62. TSU beat the ASU pressure on the ensuing possession and Walker III was fouled and hit 1-of-2 for a 66-62 margin. ASU committed a turnover in the closing seconds and TSU held serve as they knocked off ASU for the first time since the 2022 SWAC Tournament Championship Game.
Barnes led TSU with 19 followed by 13 from Walker III, 11 from Henry and 10 from Nicholas. Nicholas completed the double-double with 10 rebounds.
TSU ins back in action on Friday at 2 p.m. against #4 Southern or #5 Alabama A&M.