The SWAC Tournament kicked off on Tuesday night with four first-round games played on campus sites.
(1) Texas Southern 87, (8) Alabama State 72
There was no opening-round letdown for top-seeded Texas Southern.
Despite a slow start, the Tigers ended the first half with a 7-0 spurt and buried Alabama State in the second half to advance to the SWAC Tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year.
SWAC Player of the Year Zach Lofton scored just 13 points -- his second-lowest scoring output in a home game this season -- but freshman Trae Jefferson dropped 28 points on just 14 attempts. SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Marvin Jones added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Texas Southern has now won seven straight and 17 of its last 19 games entering Friday’s semifinal matchup with Grambling.
(2) Alcorn State 63, (7) Mississippi Valley State 60
Just one year removed from MVSU’s upset of Alcorn State in the 2/7 matchup, history nearly repeated itself in Mississippi.
Alcorn State led by as many as 14 in the second half and by 10 with less than three minutes to play, but an explosion by All-SWAC selection Marcus Romain pulled the Delta Devils to within one in the game’s final 20 seconds. Romain scored or assisted on Valley’s final 11 points, but his turnover with just six seconds remaining ended MVSU’s late run.
It was the fourth time in the last six meetings that the margin was within a single field goal or the game went into overtime.
A.J. Mosby led the way with 17 points. Reginal Johnson added 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Romain finished with a game-high 29 points, but also had seven costly turnovers.
(3) Southern 69, (6) Jackson State 63
In the day’s most dramatic game, Southern overcame a nine-point deficit at the break, outscoring JSU 44-29 in the second half to top the Tigers.
Jackson State shot just 32 percent from the field for the game, including All-SWAC senior Yettra Specks’s 4-for-16 performance.
Jared Sam scored 22 points for Southern, his second-highest total of the season.
The Jaguars went 28-for-41 from the charity stripe while Jackson State attempted just 14 free throws.
The win snaps a three-game skid for Southern and gives the Jags another shot at Alcorn State. Southern has dropped three straight against the Braves dating back to last season.
(5) Grambling 81, (4) Prairie View A&M 77
After splitting a pair of regular season meetings, Grambling pulled off the only upset of the day by holding off Prairie View A&M.
Grambling shot 51 percent from the field and went 24-30 from the free throw line to help put the game away late.
Senior Ervin Mitchell scored 24 points on an efficient 8-10 shooting performance for his 12th consecutive game in double figures.
The 16th win for Grambling is the program’s most since 1997-98. The Tigers are now just two wins away from their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
(All times Central)
Texas Southern vs. (5) Grambling, 2:30 p.m.
Alcorn State vs. (3) Southern, 8:30 p.m.