Aaric Murray scored 16 points and pulled down five rebounds for Texas Southern as the Tigers defeated the Alabama State Hornets, 73-61, in the semifinals of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament at the Toyota Center.
D'Aris Scarver accounted for 14 points and eight rebounds, although he shot just 3-of-9 behind the 3-point line for second-seeded Texas Southern (18-14) in the win. Madarious Gibbs added 12 points and a game-high seven assists, but at the same time he was charged with nine turnovers.
The third-seeded Hornets (19-12) were paced by Jamel Waters as he produced 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, but shot only 6-of-18 from the floor and suffered five miscues. Luther Page pitched in with 13 points off the bench, hitting a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, and Terrance LeFlore 12 points, to go along with five steals.
Alabama State held a brief two-point advantage early in the first half, but the squad converted a mere 7-of-24 shots from the floor and missed all five chances behind the 3-point line in the frame, en route to a 30-19 deficit at the break.
After connecting on just 1-of-2 at the free-throw line through the first 20 minutes, the Tigers feasted at the charity stripe in the second half with 18- of-22 accuracy. It also helped that the squad made good on 64.7 percent from the floor in the period as well.
Texas Southern, which held the Hornets to a mere 1-of-8 shooting beyond the arc, managed to overcome 18 turnovers on the day.
Texas Southern will now take on the winner of the Prairie View/Alabama A&M winner in the title game of the tournament on Saturday afternoon with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.