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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

What you need to know for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's NCAA Tournament game

By Quinton Martinez, Corpus Christi Caller Times,

2023-03-14
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Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball will play in its third NCAA Tournament game on Tuesday against Southeast Missouri State in Dayton, Ohio in the First Four.

The Islanders drew a No. 16 seed and are playing in Dayton for the second consecutive season after falling to Texas Southern in 2022.

A&M-Corpus Christi has won 46 games in its first two seasons under Steve Lutz claiming the Southland Conference regular season and tournament championships this season.

Here are some things to know going into Tuesday's contest with the Redhawks.

Lineup change

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will be without Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year Terrion Murdix, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Southland tournament championship.

In his absence, Jalen Jackson was tasked with more ball handling as he split duties with Murdix and Jourdyn Grandberry also saw action. Simeon Fryer was the first player off the bench to replace the hobbled Murdix when the injury occurred.

Fryer has started 66 games for A&M-Corpus Christi in his career.

"Jalen Jackson had to play more minutes, I had been playing (Murdix and Jackson) 24-to-27 minutes each," Lutz said of how the injury changes the Islanders. "We got Grandberry some minutes. He came off the bench and did a good job. Now you are going to play in the NCAA Tournament, and that is amplified. He is a good player and he knows what he is doing.

"Other than that, everybody has to give a little bit more and collectively we’ve got to make up for the loss of a really good basketball player. We’ve already shown that we can do that and we are excited to go play.”

Familiarity

Last season it was the Islanders that were in Dayton for the first time, with a program that hadn't been to the tournament in 15 years.

This time, most of the Islanders roster has NCAA Tournament experience and played in the First Four last season against Texas Southern.

The Redhawks (19-16), meanwhile, are playing in their first tournament in since 2020 and making their second trip ever after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, taking four games in four days to win as the tournament's No. 5 seed.

Trevian Tennyson said last season showed them the importance of staying level-headed throughout the game.

"Last year you kind of come in like a freshman in college with your eyes wide open and everything," Tennyson said. "So this year, we've already been here, seen everything, so now we're just focused on the game really. Last year we came up short, but this year it's just more of being mentally disciplined and focusing more on the game and trying to win it."

What's at stake

Both programs are trying to win their first NCAA Tournament game in program history. The Islanders are 0-2 with losses to Wisconsin (2007) and Texas Southern (2022) and the Redhawks lost their only previous matchup to LSU in 2020.

The winner will get to face the tournament's No. 1 overall seed Alabama in Birmingham on Thursday in a game set for 2:40 p.m.

Players to watch

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Trevian Tennyson, 6-4, sr., guard — Tennyson was named second-team All-Southland Conference and averages 15.7 points and shoots 41% from 3-point range

Isaac Mushila, 6-5, sr., forward — Mushila is a double-double threat averaging 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a game, and has been to the free throw line 193 times this season

Jalen Jackson, 5-11, sr., guard — Jackson was named the Southland Conference Tournament MVP, picking up the team after the injury to Terrion Murdix, with a season-best 17 points.

Southeast Missouri State

Chris Harris, 6-3, sr., guard — Harris was the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament MVP, averaging 23 points during the Redhawks run.

Phillip Russell, 5-10, so., guard — Russell is a playmaker who averaged 18.2 points and 4.7 assists for the Redhawks this season.

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