2014 SWAC Championship Game Recap: Aaric Murray Takes Texas Southern into Tournament

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Aaric Murray refused to lose Saturday, scoring, rebounding and blocking Texas Southern back into the NCAA Tournament. The Everything Player of the Year in the SWAC is going to put a scare into a lot of teams come March.

Ladies and gentleman, get ready for the game changer, one that could very well make history for a little school from Houston, Texas.

His name is Aaric Murray and you have probably seen him play before. But you haven't seen him like this, not with this team around him, and not this focused.

In his previous stops with La Salle and West Virginia, you could push Murray around. You can't do that in this current incarnation of the Texas Southern big man, the one who took home both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the SWAC. That was so two months ago when you could still badger the big man inside.

His ability to shrug off the constant abuse is the reason why the Tigers are headed to the NCAA Tournament, after coming back against and holding off upstart Prairie View, 78-73.

That is all thanks to Murray.

But these are just words. Until you watch Murray make two blocks on a single possession in the final minute of the game, you won't believe it. Those were two blocks that wouldn't let the Panthers get back in the game, that kept the Texas Southern lead just out of reach.

Don't believe it until you have seen him take the ball inside over guys just trying to stay out of his way as he rumbles to the basket. The tattoo on the front of his neck says "No Worries" and yet the opponents in front of him have to have a little bit of fear creep in.

This will be the difference maker for Texas Southern, a team that will likely begin in Dayton, and yet has enough talent and skill to put a real scare into a No. 1 seed in this year's bracket. Those teams don't expect a No. 16 seed to have a high major talent playing in the middle. They really don't expect him to be able to step out and hit a 3-pointer if he needs to.

They expect to be able to Hack-a-Shaq their way past him. And he will go to the line and hit every single free throw as he did on Saturday afternoon.

This is not the same Aaric Murray they remember. This one is ready for the challenge, and he will be a difficult player to plan against.

He took out Prairie View with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. And he had help

Madarious Gibbs added 15 points, and dished five assists in the win, and Jose Rodriguez came off the bench for 13 more points. This team woke up after Prairie View looked ready to run away with the game in the first half, forcing turnovers and keeping the Tigers out of their offense.

It didn't last. Mike Davis likely made the paint curl in the locker room at halftime, and he will do the same if he needs to when the time comes in the NCAA Tournament.

If this team, led by Murray's big presence in the middle, responds as they did Saturday, there is no telling what this team can pull off.

Get ready folks, the game changer is coming, and he will certainly put on a show.

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