NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tigers of Texas Southern University saw their magical 2017-18 season come to an end Friday with a 102-83 loss to Xavier in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Trae Jefferson scored a team-high 20 points for the No. 16-seeded Tigers (16-19), who received their bid into the Tournament after winning their second consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Xavier, the No. 1-seeded team in the West Region, was led by J.P. Macura’s 29 points; Macura was 5-of-6 from 3-point range as the Musketeers built a first half lead.
Jefferson, whose Wednesday heroics brought a national spotlight, handed out seven assists while also leading five TSU players scoring in double-figures. The 5-foot-7 sophomore got his 20 points despite shooting 7-of-22 from the field against a big and long Xavier team.
Derrick Bruce scored 18 points for the Tigers, including three 3-pointers. Robert Lewis came off the TSU bench to score 14 points and grab five rebounds. Donte Clark and Trayvon Reed scored 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
Due to another 16-vs.-1 game the same day, it would be false to state that Xavier had the most difficult game of any No. 1 seed in the tournament, but the Tigers certainly did not make the game easy for the Musketeers. After falling behind 13-4, TSU scored 16 unanswered points – including two 3-pointers from Lewis – to take a 20-13 lead with 12:22 left in the first half.
Xavier responded with 16 unanswered points of their own, and would lead by as many as 20 points late in the first half. But before the Musketeers could get – or should have gotten – comfortable, the Tigers ended the half by scoring the last eight points over the final 70 seconds of the period. Jefferson scored all eight TSU points to end the half.
Marquis Salmon chipped in five points for the Tigers while leading the team in rebounds with nine. Lamont Walker added four points for TSU.
Friday’s game ended a fantastic late-season surge for the Tigers. TSU won four consecutive games to end the regular season, and then won the SWAC title as the No. 3-seeded team in the conference.
On Wednesday TSU defeated North Carolina Central in the tournament’s “First Four” round to advance to the Round of 64. It was the first NCAA Tournament victory in eight appearances at the “Big Dance.” Head coach Mike Davis also claimed his eighth career Tournament win as a coach in the win over NCCU.