Saturday, February 4, 2017
HOUSTON, Texas -- The last SWAC team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament was Arkansas Pine-Bluff in 2010, and no SWAC team has advanced to the Round of 32 since 1993 (ed. note: Ellie was like -30 in 1993).
Texas Southern is looking for its third tournament appearance in the last four years. The Tigers are the class of the SWAC, and few seem ready to challenge them.
The Tigers lead the SWAC with an 8-1 conference record, two games better than second-place Alcorn State. But the gap is really wider than that. Alcorn State is just 9-11 overall, and earlier this season lost by 23 to an Evansville team that is 1-9 in the Missouri Valley. Although Texas Southern has suffered some horrific losses against ranked opponents, the Tigers have beaten Rice and barely lost to UT Arlington.
Zach Lofton is averaging a conference-high 18 points per game and racking up a ton of steals. If the Tigers want to keep up their level of play, the former Illinois State Redbird will need to continue to score in bunches.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they are without former AP All-American Honorable Mention forward Derrick Griffin. The sophomore left the team despite averaging 11.3 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game so he can focus on preparation for the NFL Draft. Griffin was last year’s SWAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in basketball, and was all-SWAC in football, leading the league in touchdowns with 11 in 2015.