UD Arena Dayton, OH—– The best time of the year March Madness has arrived! The NCAA Men’s basketball Tournament is starting off with a bang, the 1st four games at UD Arena between 16 seed SE Missouri St. out of the Ohio Valley conference and 16 seed Texas A&M-CC representing the Southland conference. SEMO is led by super sophomore Phillip Russell averaging 18.2 points & 5.0 assists shooting 36.2% for behind the 3-point line.
Texas A&M CC is led by sensational senior Trevian Tennyson averaging 15.7 points and a remarkable 41.2 % for 3-point land. Its officially one and done basketball every possession, every loose ball can decide the outcome of the game.
Chris Harris poured in a game-high 23 points and Phillip Russell chipped in with a double-double 15 points and 10 assists, as #16 Southeast Missouri (19-17) saw its outstanding season came to an end with a 75-71 loss to #16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (24-10) Tuesday in the opening game of the NCAA First Four.
Texas A&M CC exploded out of the gate with aggressive man to man defense, outstanding ball movement, and not settling for perimeter jump shots. They controlled the glass and dominated the paint with three offensive rebounds in the first four minutes of the game creating multiple second change opportunities.
The intensity and energy in this 1st 4 matchup was electric inside of UD Arena. Despite being down SE Missouri St. kept the game close shooting 50% shooting from the field, the Islanders were up 11-7 after the first media timeout. The Islanders 6’8” forward De’Lararus Keys imposed his physicality by cleaning the glass with 4 points and game leading 5 boards.
SEMO’s 6’9” forward Adam Larson came off the bench on fire, knocking down two huge 3-point baskets to cut the lead to 17-15 in favor of The Islanders. Islanders Isaac Mushila put his fingerprints all of the game with 9 points to lead all scores at the 7:55 mark in the 1st half.
Red hawk’s head coach Brad Korn extended SEMO’S defense to half court traps to force turnovers which lead to easy transition layups. Semo athletic freshman Adam Larson only averaging 5 points per game, had 9 points off the bench shooting a superb 3 for 3 from 3-point land, keeping the game in striking distance for the Red Hawks, 31-25 with 2:44 remaining in the 1st half. Texas A&M CC head coach Steve Lutz was preaching defense and employed his troops to limit the Red Hawks to one shot. That philosophy paid great dividends going into the half out rebounding SEMO 24 to 15 and leading 33 to 27.
Texas A&M CC came out in the second half with a sense of urgency, understanding the importance of the moment in this do or die game diving for every loose ball, talking on defense, and executing in their half court offensive sets. Islanders senior guard Ross Williams came off the bench and gave them a tremendous spark scoring 10 points to lead all scores in tightly contested 40-34 game with them being up with 14:25 left in the game.
At the 9:33 mark Texas A&M CC was in control of the game and was up by 10 points, 53-43. SEMO head coach Brad Korn with the game in jeopardy down by 10 called for a full court press, trapping to cause turnovers to get back into the game. SEMO Phillip Russell in a shooting slump, nails a clutch 3-point basketball to cut the lead to 58-52.
You could see the sense of relief when the ball went through the cotton. The Islanders super star Trevian Tennyson clearly hobbled knocked down his second NBA distance 3-point basket as he displayed a gutty effort.
SEMO Senior Chris Harris put the team on his back scoring 19 points in the second half after removing his headband (23 for the game) cutting the lead to 64-62 with 3:57 remaining in this high octane match up of 16 seeds. Islanders senior point guard Jalen Jackson only averaging 7 points per game came into the game showing amazing poise and leadership controlling the tempo scoring 20 points with 6 rebounds and hitting a pair of free throws.
With 21 seconds left SEMO Phillip Russell drove to the basket and finished at the rim to cut the lead to 72-71 with 15.1 second remaining. With no fouls to give SEMO put 71.4 % free throw shooter Jalen Jackson on the line again and he hit both free throws to extend the lead to 74-71 with 1.5 seconds on the clock and closed it out. A marvelous displayed of basketball to begin the 2023 March madness.