Alcorn State bows out in first round of NIT

Published 9:50 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

DENTON, Texas — Alcorn State faded in the second half, and faded out in the first round of the NIT.

Conference USA Player of the Year Tylor Perry scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and North Texas beat Alcorn State 69-53 in the NIT on Wednesday.

Alcorn State was 6-for-25 from the field in the second half. Dominic Brewton came off the bench to lead the Braves with 14 points. Oddyst Walker scored 11, and Dekedran Thorn had nine points and seven rebounds.

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“The biggest thing is we came out flat in the second half,” Alcorn coach Landon Bussie said. “This is the best defensive team (we’ve played). They hold teams under 55 points every game. Things got a little stagnant in the second half and we tried to press a little bit.”

Alcorn State (18-14) has not won a game in either the NIT or NCAA Tournament since winning a play-in game in the 1984 NCAA Tournament. It lost in the first round of the NIT for the second year in a row, after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season championship and then losing in the league tournament both times.

“We accomplished one goal. Didn’t accomplish another goal. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board, continue to recruit and get better,” Bussie said. “I don’t expect any drop off. Today we were short-handed, but it’s not about personnel. It’s trying to build a culture.”

North Texas (27-7) extended its program record for wins and advanced to face Sam Houston in the second round.

Perry had six rebounds for the Mean Green. Kai Huntsberry added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

North Texas took the lead with 12:48 left in the first half and never trailed again, although it didn’t pull away until early in the second half. The Mean Green led 30-26 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 17-5 run.

Alcorn did not make a field goal in the second half until Brewton’s jumper with 13:04 remaining made it 47-33. A 3-pointer by Brewton with 11:47 left got the Braves back to within nine, but North Texas’ Rubin Jones answered with his own 3-pointer on the next possession to trigger a 7-0 spurt. Alcorn never got closer than 14 points after that.

“They gave us everything in the first half and got on the offensive glass and gave us problems,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “(Alcorn State) competed and we have a ton of respect for them. I thought in the second half our defense really stepped up and we were able to separate.”