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Texas Southern's Rally Falls Short

It's official - the city of Houston will go unrepresented in the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament. Houston and Rice failing to earn Conference USA's auto bid was no surprise, but Texas Southern, owners of the SWAC regular season title with a 16-2 mark in conference play, seemed like a pretty decent bet. Alabama State had other ideas.

The #4 seed Hornets absolutely shut down TSU's offense in the first half, and piled up a 30-17 halftime lead. And while the Tiger offense woke up in the second half, their defense just didn't do enough,and Alabama State earned the 73-66 win, and a spot in Saturday's SWAC tournament championship game.

A Lawrence Johnson-Danner three-pointer closed the gap to four points with 51 seconds to go, and a one-for-two free throw trip gave TSU the ball, down just five points, but Johnson-Danner couldn't connect on a second straight trey, and Alabama State closed the game out with free throws.

It was the second upset of the day, following #6 seed Grambling State knocking off #2 seed Jackson State earlier in the day. Texas Southern will earn an automatic bid to the NIT as the conference's regular season champion.

Harrison Smith led all scorers with 24 points for TSU, while Ivory White paced the Hornets with 17 points.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.