The Texas Southern Tigers dominated their First Four matchup against the North Carolina Central Eagles. The 64-46 win put the Tigers into the Field of 64 on Friday evening. They will take on the No. 1 Xavier Musketeers in the West Region. However, the Tigers don’t have a long way to go to reach their new destination. They will meet up in Nashville for a chance to be the first 16-seed to knock off a No. 1 seed. If they play in a similar fashion as Wednesday night, the Musketeers better bring their best game to the table.
Demontrae Jefferson led the Tigers with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists in the victory. Jefferson controlled the pace throughout the game. However, it didn’t always look like the Tigers would runaway with the game.
Behind the exploits of Raasean Davis, the Eagles jumped out to a lead. After eight minutes of action, the Eagles led 10-8 and seemed to have the running game from the Tigers under control. That’s exactly when Jefferson exploded. The Tigers used an 8-0 run to take the lead and extended the lead to 27-16 with four minutes left to play in the first half.
The Tigers took a 36-26 lead into the halftime break. Their slow start did not deter them offensively. Jefferson exploded for 17 first half points. He connected on 6-of-10 field goal attempts including hitting a 3-point shot to extend a seven-point lead to 10. Jefferson also made all four of his foul shots in the first half. He wasn’t alone with a stellar first half.
Davis produced 16 points 7 rebounds and 2 blocks just to keep the Eagles within striking distance in Dayton. Davis shot 80 percent from the field prior to halftime. Yet, his inside presence didn’t help the Eagles get to the foul line. The Eagles didn’t attempt one free throw prior to halftime. They also didn’t make a 3-point shot, missing all six attempts in the first 20 minutes. Davis finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds as his contribution tailed off in the second half.
Donte Clark added 18 points and 7 rebounds for the Tigers. However, he only shot 5-of-16 in the game. In all, the Tigers were 21-of-57 from the field. They shot 6-of-24 from 3-point range. Yet, they were hot compared to what the Eagles threw up at the rim.
They were limited to 21-of-69 shots. The Eagles also missed all 14 of their 3-point attempts in the game. Moreover, Davis was the only player to reach double figure for the Eagles.
Tip-off is set for 7:20 p.m. on Friday against the Musketeers. Now that the Tigers got their first NCAA Tournament win, they have an opportunity to win two in a row. The Musketeers come into the game with a (28-5) record, while the Tigers are still trying to reach the .500 mark at (16-19).