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Alabama State (10-21) vs. Jackson State (10-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curtis Culwell Center (7,000) -- Garland, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 7-5, JSU 6-3. Away Record: ASU 3-14, JSU 4-14. Neutral Record: ASU 0-2, JSU 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 8-10, JSU 9-9. Series Record: Jackson State leads, 43-29.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinals of the 36th annual Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament continues on Thursday, as the Alabama State Hornets challenge the Jackson State Tigers at the Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.
Jackson State, which won the last of its five tournament titles in 2007 over Mississippi Valley State, is the second seed in this year's event even though the team sports an overall record of just 10-17. The squad opened the 2012-13 calendar with an eight-game slide but then came alive versus SWAC foes. An even 9-9 in league play, the Tigers closed out with five wins in six tries, the lone setback coming by just a single point at Arkansas-Pin Bluff (73-72).
As for the fifth-seeded Hornets, winners of the 2011 edition of this tourney, they too were roughed up by non-conference opponents early on, losing seven in a row and 11 of the first 12 games of the season. The team had also fallen in three straight recently, but halted that slide with a 74-62 triumph versus Grambling in the regular-season finale.
Jackson State won the most recent meeting two weeks ago by a final of 70-65 in overtime which means the all-time series now stands at 43-29 in favor of the Tigers (dating back to 1980).
The winner of this game will head to the semifinals on Friday where they will challenge the survivor of the Prairie View/Alcorn State matchup.
Alabama State produced only 61.9 ppg this season, with the biggest problem for the group coming at the free-throw line where they were just 59.8 percent accurate. It also didn't help that the group averaged more than 15 turnovers per contest either, with one of the biggest culprits being Joshua Freelove who just happened to be the leading scorer for the Hornets with his 13.7 ppg. Phillip Crawford is listed as the second and only other double-digit scorer for the squad with his 12.4 ppg, not to mention placing first on the glass with an even six boards per contest.
Only slightly better at the offensive end of the floor than ASU, the Tigers were responsible for 65.9 ppg behind the efforts of Kelsey Howard. Shooting an impressive 40.3 percent behind the 3-point line, Howard checked in with 14.8 ppg to pace the program in scoring. Dundrecous Nelson had been a key contributor on offense with 14.3 ppg, but he shot just 35.6 percent from the floor and 22.9 percent beyond the arc and did not appear in any one of the last four regular-season bouts. Christian Williams (13.7 ppg) hit a team-high 62 triples, but at the same time shot just 37.7 percent from the field.
Averaging about nine assists per game this season, the Tigers are far from a cohesive unit and that may be why Alabama State has a chance to move on in this tournament.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama State 66, Jackson State 62
03/14 10:36:30 ET