Texas Southern Tigers(1-5) defeated the Lamar Cardinals(4-3) in a home opener thriller at the H&PE Arena with the final score being 76-73. Their matchup against the Cardinals is the first time since 2014 the Tigers hosted a Div. 1 opponent as a non-conference opponent. The Tigers entered Saturday’s game averaging 64.2 points per game, led by guard Tyrik Armstrong who leads the team in points, assists and steals with 13.5 PPG, 3.5 assist PG, and 2.2 SPG.
The Tigers first half was uniquely wild considering the lead changes, and the inability to make their three-pointers, shooting 18 percent from the floor only making 2-11 from behind the arc. While the three-ball wasn’t falling, the Tigers were able to find success from the charity stripe, shooting 11-15 from the free-throw line which helped spark a 19-9 run to close the half and tie the game. John Walker III and Tyrik Armstrong combined for 21 of the 39 points and was essential for orchestrating the comeback after being down as much as 12 points early.
Texas Southern came out in the second half and continued their trend of getting to the free-throw line, forcing bad shots and getting help from their bench. While the defense terrorized the Cardinals, causing 19 turnovers for the game, the Tigers were able to get into a better offensive rhythm in the second half as the Tigers shot 44.4 percent, including 43 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, Texas Southern held Lamar to 38.7 percent in the second half and did a much better job defending the three-point line. John Walker III had a career night scoring 20 points, while John Jones and Chris Baldwin combined for 16 of the 27 points off the bench. The Tigers avenged their 80-72 loss against they suffered against Lamar in their last meeting.
The Tigers prepare for their next game against #8 Gonzaga (8-1) on 12/4. When asked about the close game and getting ready for the next game, coach John Jones says “as a coach, you’re never satisfied.”