Written by Pedro Romero; Photographed by Mikol Kindle Jr.
There’s nothing quite like a rivalry game.
The air gets thicker, anxiety reaches an all-time high and bragging rights become a bit more important.
A simple game of basketball is amplified when two in-state rivals come face to face in the midst of a gridlock for first place in any given conference. Only few occasions can match these prerequisites, and when it comes to fruition whatever setting it happens, one can be sure an epic game would transpire as a result of the hype.
This is exactly what happened in the game between Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M on Saturday night. In a contest filled with plenty of twists and turns, including a 21-point comeback, the Tigers came out on top to defeat the Panthers 95-90.
Jeremy Combs, the reigning SWAC Player of the Week, led the way as he notched a double-double, which accounts for an already stellar stat line of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals, one assist, and one block.
Looking at the rest of the cast, Tyrik Armstrong scored 19 points while also giving four assists and committing three steals. Moreover, Devocio Butler, Eden Ewing, and Derrick Bruce rounded out the team as they each put up double-digit points in their own right, galvanizing the team to eventual victory.
Conversely, Prairie View’s Devonte Patterson led the team in scoring for this game with 21 points while Chancellor Ellis chipped in with 20.
The game started out as a shootout as both teams exchanged shots left and right. Prairie View made seven out of their first nine shots while Texas Southern was nearly perfect from beyond the arc by making three out of four 3-point attempts. In fact, TSU held a five-point lead near the middle of the first half.
However, by its end, PV conducted a 13-2 run for the lead, giving them a 53-45 score at the break.
It looked that the visitor’s offensive powers were going to ensure them the win as their lead soon walloped to 21 points seven minutes into the second half. The crowd, watching the events happen before them, looked shell shocked. Silence governed the arena and the only sound that could be heard came from the visiting crowd.
But it’s at that point where the tides began to turn for the Tigers.
A succession of turnovers on the part of PV—most of them being bad passes—gave TSU some hope, and they made use of their many opportunities.
The Tigers made a 18-8 scoring run which cut the lead down to eight with six minutes remaining in the game. As the game neared its end, PV’s lead dwindled further and further, going from eight to five to three and finally to one. Eventually, after Armstrong made a layup with three minutes to go in the game, TSU took the lead, prompting the crowd lose their rational minds.
Texas Southern continued to pound on the Panthers with their momentum, but the latter stayed firm. This transpired for nearly a couple minutes, leaving the game clock to only a single minute.
With the score 90-89 in favor of PV, Combs drived for a layup, his mind hopeful for the ball to go in. Fortunately, it did go in; but before that happened, the referee whistled for a defensive foul, signaling an extra free throw. After making the free throw, PV was given the ball to create a shot and respond to the Tigers’ attack.
Nothing was materialized.
PV soon committed another turnover and the Tigers were given a new pair of free throws, locking up the win for the home team. Cheers rounded out the court as the clock expired. Happiness reigned down Texas Southern’s home arena. Their rivals, vanquished in defeat, languished to their locker room, signaling their surrender to the victors.
It’s the first the loss the Panthers received in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season, leaving them at a record of 9-1 and 11-12 overall. On the other hand, the result leaps Texas Southern to second place in the league’s standings, with their record improving to 7-3 and 12-11 overall in the process.
Texas Southern will face the 12-11 (6-4) Grambling State Tigers on Saturday, Feb. 16 for their next game, while Prairie View takes on the 9-14 (6-4) Jackson State Tigers the same day.