Recapping day two of the C-USA men’s basketball tournament
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And then there were four…the semifinals of the Conference-USA men’s basketball tournament are officially set. It was another exciting day of action in Birmingham as yet another contest was decided in the final seconds of play. Find out who survived and advanced:
(9) UTSA 70 (1) Middle Tennessee 86
Middle Tennessee shot 59 percent (33-of-56) and held UTSA to 36 percent (21-of-58) from the floor on route to a dominant 86-70 win. Five Blue Raiders scored in double-figures with forward Reggie Upshaw leading the way with 21 points and six rebounds, making 9-of-14 shots from the field. Conference-USA player of the year JaCorey Williams finished with 14 points and nine assists for the Blue Raiders. UTSA out-rebounded Middle Tennessee 39-28, but their poor shooting was the deciding factor. Leading scorers for the Roadrunners were Jeff Beverly, Giovanni De Nicolao, and Austin Karrer who all finished with 10 points each in the losing effort. The Blue Raiders took care of the basketball, and turned it over only seven times the entire contest. The no. 1 seed Middle Tennessee advances to the semifinals where they will face no. 4 seed UTEP.
(5) Rice 76 (4) UTEP 86
UTEP had four total players foul out in the game but held a high-scoring Rice team to just 34 percent (21-of-62) from the floor to win 86-76. The Miners beat Rice in the same fashion defensively the last time the two teams met, holding the Owls to an exact 34 percent back on Feb. 18 in Houston. UTEP guard Dominic Artis captured a double-double, scoring a season-high 26 points to go along with 10 boards with 10-of-13 shooting from the floor. Omega Harris added 21 points of his own with six rebounds. The Miners dominated the with points in the paint, finishing with a 38-14 advantage. Marcus Evans finished with 21 points and Connor Cashaw added 17 points with seven rebounds for the Owls in the loss. The no. 4 seed UTEP will face top-seeded Middle Tennessee tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. MST in the semifinals. The Miners shocked the Blue Raiders 57-54 back on Feb. 4 in El Paso. The loss for Middle Tennessee was and still is their lone conference loss on the season. The semifinal matchup will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
(7) UAB 57 (2) Louisiana Tech 69
Eric McCree earned an impressive 16 rebounds to go along with 20 points to help Louisiana Tech run past hometown UAB 69-57. The Bulldogs dominated in the first half carrying a 31-18 lead into the break and holding the Blazers to 21 percent (6-of-29) in those first 20 minutes. The teams were dead even with points in the paint, 26-26, but Louisiana Tech shot 42 percent (5-of-12) from behind-the-arc while UAB shot 26 percent (6-of-23). Other leaders for Louisiana Tech were Jalen Harris who earned 17 points with five rebounds and Jacobi Boykins who added 14 points with eight rebounds and three assists. Leaders for the Blazers were William Lee, Denzell Watts, and Dirk Williams who all earned 13 points apiece. Chris Cokley brought down 12 boards in the loss. The no. 2 seed Louisiana Tech advances to the semifinals where they will play no. 6 seed Marshall.
(6) Marshall 64 (3) Old Dominion 63
Jon Elmore made 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled by Ahmad Caver with three seconds left to help no. 6 seed Marshall upset no. 3 seed Old Dominion 64-63. The Thundering Herd started the game on a 15-0 run, holding the Monarchs scoreless the first eight minutes of the contest. Old Dominion quickly fought their way back to get into the game to surprisingly lead at the break, 29-27, as the game remained close the rest of the way. The Monarchs out-rebounded the Thundering Herd 44-33 but shot just 39 percent (27-of-70) from the floor in defeat. Stevie Browning scored 24 points to lead Marshall, giving him back-to-back 20-plus point games in the tournament. Other leaders for Marshall were Terrence Thompson, who earned a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Elmore who missed a double-double by just one rebound (nine), scoring 15 points with four assists. The no. 6 seed Marshall will face no. 2 seed Louisiana Tech tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. MST in the semifinals. The Thundering Herd fell to the Bulldogs in a high-scoring affair, 94-90, back on Feb. 4 in Ruston, Louisiana. The game will also be televised on CBS Sports Network.