BILOXI, Miss. (AP) -- Jackson State coach Andy Stoglin has gone
from the hot seat to a seat on top of the world in just a few days.
When the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament began, many
believed Stoglin might be coaching his final games for the Tigers.
That seems highly unlikely now after Jackson State erased a
14-point halftime deficit and defeated Southern 76-61 in the SWAC
tournament finals Saturday to clinch a berth in the NCAA
"I'm just glad to be the one standing up here in this
position," said Stoglin, who has led Jackson State to all three of
its NCAA Tournament appearances, the last in 1997, during his 11
It was a disappointing regular season for the Tigers (17-15),
who were expected to challenge for a SWAC title, but finished 10-8
in conference and 14-15 overall.
Jackson State is in the process of hiring a new athletic
director and officials at the university have said that Stoglin
would be evaluated at the end of the season.
They'll have to wait at least another five days.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Stoglin said of rumors of his
possible impending dismissal entering the tournament.
Stoglin said his record at Jackson State (155-143) should speak
"I put some pressure on this team when I said they could be the
best collection of players that I have had," Stoglin said. "These
are the best big guys, collectively, that I've ever had."
It was the big guys who made the difference against Southern,
especially 6-foot-11 center Vincent Jones.
Jones, the SWAC defensive player of the year, showed off his
offensive game with 22 points. Jones and 6-6 power forward Deon
Burns, who scored 17, dominated inside for the fourth-seeded
Jones, who was selected tournament MVP, said this wasn't a case
of winning one for the coach.
"We play for our coach every game," he said.
Jackson State shot 55 percent for the game, 60 percent in the
second half. Jones finished 10-of-16 from the floor, Burns 6-of-8.
Jones also blocked four shots and was key in holding the Jaguars
(18-11) to just 6-of-29 shooting in the second half.
Southern coach Tommy Green thought his team's inept second-half
offense had more to do with the Jaguars' shooters than the Tigers'
"It was definitely a case of our offense misfiring," Green
said. "We couldn't hit an outside shot to help our inside game get
going. We just missed some great looks."
Burns converted a three-point play with 3:41 remaining that gave
Jackson State a 68-54 lead and effectively punched the Tigers'
ticket to the Big Dance.
Stoglin likes his big, athletic front line's chances when the
Tigers matchup against on the top seeds in the tournament.
"We have a major college front line," Stoglin said. "I think
we can play a No. 1 better than people think because we are better
against big teams. No big man in the country is quicker then
SWAC player of the year Adarrial Smylie led the second-seeded
Jaguars with 24 points, but he was Southern's only option in the
second half scoring 13 of Jaguars' 20 points.
Southern held a 41-27 lead at half. Then Jackson State, the No.
1 defensive team in the SWAC, started to show its form in the
The Tigers went on a 24-3 run to start the second half. Jones
had six points during the spurt and Timmy Marks capped it off with
a 3-pointer that gave Jackson State a 51-44 lead.
Jackson State guard Marino Walker had six points and got to
watch his mother, Shirley, coach Alcorn State to a women's SWAC
title and a berth in the NCAA earlier in the day.
The Lady Braves upset Grambling State to reach the NCAAs for the
first time ever in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.
|Timmy Marks celebrates after his 10 points helped the Tigers earn their third NCAA Tournament bid.||
Mens College Basketball Scoreboard
Jackson State Clubhouse
Vincent Jones throws down the monster jam.
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Vincent Jones hits the skyhook jumper.
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