NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The long journey for No. 16 Texas Southern men’s basketball team finally ended on Friday night with a spirited effort against No. 1 Xavier at the Bridgestone Arena as the Tigers fell 102-83.
Texas Southern (16-20) was off the heels of its first NCAA Tournament win in program history after defeating N.C. Central on Wednesday in a First Four match up in Dayton, OH.
And, the Tigers came ready to play as it produced several memorable tournament moments including a 16-0 run to take an early seven-point advantage in the first half against the Musketeers (29-5).
In a wild game, Xavier answered with a 16-0 run of their own in the opening half and then extended their lead with another 8-0 run to push ahead by 20 only to see Tigers point guard Demontrae Jefferson score the final eight points of the first half to cut the lead to 12 for upset-minded Texas Southern.
The Tigers were unable to cut into the lead any further in the second half as Xavier increased the lead to as many as 24 with 5:14 left in the game.
Five players reached double figures for the Tigers. Jefferson tallied a team-high 20 points with seven assists and four steals while Derrick Bruce scored 18 and Robert Lewis came off the bench and provided 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Donte Clark had 12 points, mostly from the free throw line (8-of-9), and Trayvon Reed totaled 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
For Xavier, the majority of their scoring came from three players with J.P. Macura scoring 29, Trevon Bluiett totaling 26 and Kerem Canter notching 24 points.
“I’m proud of my team,” said Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis.
“We made a great, great run, winning eight straight games this season. Xavier’s a really good team, a No. 1 seed, you’ve got to take your hat off to those guys. They made some shots. My team fought all the way through. The effort they gave tonight in that game against this team was one that I’m proud of. It’s something for us to build on. It’s a lot of great things that are going to happen for Texas Southern in the next couple of years. We’re going to put together a team that is going to beat whatever seed it is we have to play. That’s our goal all summer long, starting from this point on. We’re going to play, we’re going to work, we’re going to focus with the effort that we gave tonight. That’s what you build on right there. The effort that they gave tonight is what you build in the off-season every single day. So we look forward to being here next year and we look forward to doing something special at Texas Southern.”