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  Saturday, Mar. 11 4:00pm ET
Mr. Jones takes Jackson State Big Dancing

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.

Timmy Marks
Timmy Marks celebrates after his 10 points helped the Tigers earn their third NCAA Tournament bid.

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 Tournament.

"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 seasons.

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 for itself.

"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 Tigers.

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' defense.

"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 Vincent (Jones)."

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 second half.

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.

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Jackson State Clubhouse

Southern Clubhouse

SWAC tournament

 Vincent Jones throws down the monster jam.
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 Vincent Jones hits the skyhook jumper.
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