Texas Southern’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 ended abruptly Wednesday in an 81-69 loss to Cal Poly in a play-in game at Dayton, Ohio.
Tigers’ center Aaric Murray scored 38 points in defeat. Murray went 14-23 from the field and made all seven of his free throws. The only other Tiger to score more than six points was Jose Rodriguez who provided 14 off the bench.
Texas Southern played the Mustangs even in the second half but was never able to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit. The loss snapped TSU’s nine-game winning streak and ended the SWAC Champion’s season with a 19-15 record.
Texas Southern advanced to the Big Dance after rallying to beat, 11-22 Prairie View in the SWAC Championship game last Saturday at Toyota Center. But the Tigers couldn’t defeat the Mustangs who less than a week ago were just 10-19, before rolling off three straight wins in the Big West Conference tournament to earn the automatic bid. Cal Poly was just the 20th team with a losing record to make the NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs became the first team with 19 losses to win a tourney game in 59 years. Cal Poly would have to win the national championship just to finish the year with a winning record.
Their reward for defeating Texas Southern is a date with undefeated Wichita State Friday in St. Louis.
TSU Coach Mike Davis led his third different team to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were also making their fifth appearance in the Big Dance.
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