Texas Southern's John Walker III, left, drives to the basket against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Simeon Fryer during the second half of a First Four game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in Dayton, Ohio. Texas Southern won 76-67. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

NCAA Tournament Play Begins

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern and Indiana vs. Wyoming on Tuesday marked the beginning of the NCAA tournament play-in games. Both games provided quality viewing for the fans as both were tightly contested throughout and went down to the wire.

Texas Southern Makes it to the First Round

The Texas Southern Tigers beat the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Tuesday night, winning 76-67. Three players on their bench scored in double digits, while none of their starters did. Their leading scorer of the night was senior guard Bryson Etienne who scored 21 points off the bench.

https://twitter.com/MarchMadnessMBB/status/1503873036876869638

In addition to Etienne’s performance, senior forward John Walker III scored 16 points and junior guard PJ Henry scored 14 points. These were the only players to score more than 10 on the night for the Tigers.

Texas Southern may not have been the most efficient in its offense, but it made the important shots whether it came at the free throw line or from a regular jump shot. Texas Southern shot 41.8% from the field, but only making 30.8% of its three-point attempts. However, it sank 17 more free throws than its opponents. The Tigers ended 26-for-35 (74.3%) from the free-throw line, which is where they won this game.

On the other side of the ball, the Tigers defense stifled the Islanders. Texas Southern senior forward Brison Gresham had a huge impact on the defensive side for the Tigers. Gresham ended the night with a game-high six blocks. Also, he finished with 13 total rebounds, eight of which were defensive rebounds. As a team, the Tigers closed the night with nine total blocks and four steals.

The Islanders made just 37.3% of their shots on the night. Furthermore, they only netted eight of their 21 3-point attempts (38.1%). They also were inefficient from the charity strip in this game. They were 47.4% from the line on 19 attempts. Not the best percentage, especially when seeing they lost by nine and missed 10 free throws. For the islanders, though, they forced 15 turnovers compared to the nine of their own.

Overall, Texas Southern grinded out this win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to get it to the first round of the NCAA tournament. It will only get more difficult from here on out as it moves on as the 16-seed to faceoff against 0ne-seed Kansas Jayhawks.

Indiana Keeps Its Tournament Run Alive

The next showing for the play-in games was between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Wyoming Cowboys, with Indiana winning 66-58 over Wyoming to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hoosiers were led by star center Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis tallied 29 points and nine rebounds. His 29 points were tied for the most by a Hoosier in his debut in the NCAA Tournament.

The next closest in points for the Hoosiers came from Jordan Geronimo who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. After that, only one more person scored in double-digits.

As a team, Indiana shot 26-for-62 (41.9%) from the field and only 15.4% from three. Also, it only made 12 of its 20 attempts from the free-throw line (60%). What really made the difference for the team was the turnover differential. It was +11 in this margin. Indiana only turned the ball over eight times.

The Wyoming offense shot 20-for-46 (43.5%) from the field and 31.6%. For free throws, it made the same amount, 12, but on two less attempts. Wyoming were led by two players on offense, Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado. Ike had 17 points and nine rebounds. Maldonado scored 21 points and had five assists.

Sixteen total shots more for the Hoosiers than the Cowboys. Indiana only had three steals in the game, but forced Wyoming to turn the ball over 19 times and got out-rebounded on the offensive side by eight.

With this win, Indiana will be heading to the first round of the NCAA tournament. Its first round opponents will be the fifth-seed Saint Mary’s Gaels.

About Kyle Lander

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