Texas Southern (19-12) started off the 2021-22 season losing its first seven games. An NCAA Tournament bid? That ship had sailed — or so we thought.
Head coach Johnny Jones’ Tigers didn’t roll over and after Tuesday’s 76-67 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (23-12) in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, they find themselves in the dance. Texas Southern advances to face the Midwest No. 1 seed Kansas Thursday at 9:57 p.m. ET in Fort Worth, Texas. The victory is the program’s third First Four win in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champs were lifted by some inspiring performances off the bench. Senior guard Bryson Etienne, junior guard PJ Henry and senior forward John Walker III combined for 51 points and 47% from the field.
Etienne especially was effective, shooting 5-of-8 from the field for 21 points and five rebounds. He was a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe. His three-pointer with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half gave the Tigers their first lead of the night.
The Islanders, led by head coach Steve Lutz, were looking to make their second First Round appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2007. They certainly had their chances and had control of the game early. The Islanders raced out to a 13-5 lead within the first six minutes, until Texas Southern’s defense adjusted.
The Tigers came into Tuesday with the 21st best defense in the land, allowing teams to shoot just 45.2% from the field. The Islanders shot 37.3% from the field. Junior guard Trevian Tennyson led the way off the bench with 18 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-7 from behind the arc.
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