For the second consecutive year the Texas Southern Tigershave seized the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. They earned that spot by defeating the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the SWAC tournament final 84-69.
For Texas Southern, the same type of offensive output that allowed them ultimately seize control against Prairie View in the semis was on display in the first half of the championship game. A Trent Steen jumper brought UAPB within one was followed by Texas Southern 13-1 run in which Donte Clark scored eight points and would lift the Tigers to a double digit lead.
The Golden Lions would cut it to five, thanks in large to Martaveous McKnight but Texas Southern maintained their shooting eye and was able to take a nine-point lead into the break at 45-36.
UAPB cut the lead to three,55-52, with 12:40 left in the game. Terrance Baynard canned a foul line jumper to pull the Golden Lions to within a single possession, Texas Southern’s Trayvon Reed came back with a slam dunk which was followed by a McKnight basket down low that would make the score 59-57 with 10:20 to go. A Robert Lewis corner three and a Trae Jefferson floater would push the Tiger lead to seven at 64-57.
Texas Southern go on a 14-4 run that would prove to be the deciding factor in the game.
Trae Jefferson was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The victory marked Texas Southern’s fourth SWAC Tournament crown in five years.
What makes this fest even more improbable is that the Tigers played an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule and started season 0-13 ( yes you read that right). They did not get in the win column until a 78-66 win over Southern on January 1.