Texas Southern head coach Johnny Jones spoke to the reality of what his team faces when playing a top national seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Along with talent, there needs to be a bit of good fortune, too.
Though the SWAC champions battled to the end, the effort was not nearly enough in an 82-66 loss to No. 1 Michigan in the East Region first-round on Saturday.
“It’s just going to take a little bit of luck,” Jones said. “I thought that we had a team that was extremely capable. You have to really be hitting on all cylinders when you’re in these games and playing extremely well.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t hitting on all cylinders today there in the first half to apply enough pressure to Michigan that they would feel it and maybe feel the intense pressure there in the second half because they had such a huge lead there.”
Michigan never trailed in building a lead that reached 24 points early in the second half.
Though Texas Southern outscored Michigan 42-30 in the paint and got within 12 points late, the deficit was not too much to overcome.
The Tigers shot 35% from the field and were only 1-for-12 from the 3-point line.
“That’s the character of these guys. They don’t quit. They never give up,” said Jones. “One of our mottos is making sure we fight and get after it every second, every play, and we like to empty our tanks out there on the floor. I thought those guys did that, and that’s why we were — and we got close later in the game when we, I guess, got down nine, ten points at that time.”
Michael Weathers had 24 points and John Walker III finished with 11 for the Tigers, who were coming off a First Four win over Mount St. Mary’s.
“For us, we just wanted to show that we’re a hardworking group of guys,” said Weathers. “We come in every day with a blue-collar mentality, and we just never give up. This group of guys is always going to fight down to the end, down to the wire. I’m glad it was Texas Southern in this tournament, and that we got to represent Texas Southern in the right way. It was just a fun run, but like I said, unfortunately, it has to come to an end.”