Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The battle for the Southwestern Athletic Conference's title and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament comes down to just two teams, as the eighth-seeded Prairie View Panthers take on the second- seeded Texas Southern Tigers on Saturday.
The winner gets a berth into the national tournament, and will be closely watching Sunday's Selection Show for seeding and first-round placement.
Prairie View's Cinderella story continues in the SWAC Tournament. The Panthers had lost seven games in a row entering the tournament, but have won all three postseason matches so far, including Friday's 55-49 victory over Alabama A&M in the semifinal round.
Texas Southern defeated Grambling State in the quarterfinal round to advance through, and took down third-seeded Alabama State, 73-61, Friday in semifinal- round action. The Tigers have won eight consecutive games entering the title game.
Texas Southern has a comfortable lead in the all-time series against Prairie View, 56-19. However it was the Panthers who won the most recent matchup between the two sides back on Feb. 8, 85-77. The Bulldogs narrowly defeated Prairie View earlier in the season, 87-83, in a triple-overtime contest.
Friday's semifinal game against Alabama A&M was more of a defensive struggle than it was an offensive struggle than a defensive battle. Prairie View shot just 38.2 percent from the floor in the first half, but still took a 33-22 lead over the Bulldogs at the intermission. Alabama A&M shaved off five points from the Panthers' first-half advantage, but it still fell too short to advance. Tre Hagood tallied 13 points to lead Prairie View in the win, while Montrael Scott and Demondre Chapman each chipped in 10 points. Entering Friday's semifinal bout, Scott led the team in scoring with a 15 ppg mark, followed by John Brisco's 12.6 ppg average and Chapman's 11.7 ppg total. Hagood surpassed his modest 6.3 ppg average with his 13 points Friday. Chapman, who averaged 5.5 rpg before Friday's showdown, pulled down eight boards against Alabama A&M.
Texas Southern took a commanding lead over Alabama State at the end of the first half on Friday, 30-19, and the Tigers set their game on cruise control for the second half en route to the double-digit victory. Aaric Murray netted 16 points in the contest to pace Texas Southern, adding five rebounds to his stat line. Murray came into Friday's contest averaging 21.1 ppg for the Tigers, adding a team-best 7.7 rpg mark. D'Aris Scarver contributed 14 points and eight rebounds in the win, and Madarious Gibbs chipped in 12 points with seven assists, but also a team-worst nine turnovers. Scarver entered Friday's contest scoring 13.9 ppg, while Jose Rodriguez, who scored just five points Friday, was averaging 11.4 ppg. Prior to Friday's win over Alabama State, in which the third-seeded Hornets scored just 61 points, the Tigers were allowing 74.1 ppg to opponents.