In a battle of 16 seeds, Texas San-Antonio (20-13) beat Alabama State 70-61 Thursday night, advancing to the second round to play the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday evening.
The Roadrunners were fueled by a career game from Melvin Johnson, the sophomore guard from Dallas, Texas. Johnson scorched Alabama State, scoring 29 points in a game that should have been a blow out. 25 of his 29 points came in the first half where the Roadrunners could seemingly do no wrong. After building a 28 point lead early in the second half, UTSA stumbled a bit but eventually cruised to the nine point victory.
Roadrunners head coach Brooks Thompson was excited about advancing to the second round, "Our first win in an NCAA tournament game in any sport... we're very proud to be in this moment."
A dejected Alabama State coach talked about Johnson’s great game, "Johnson got good look after good look, and he also made some tough shots," Lewis Jackson said. "He got on a roll and it trickled down to everybody else."
The Roadrunners are led by their two guards, Devin Gibson and Melvin Johnson. Gibson is a first team All-Southland-Conference selection, averaging 17 points and just under 6 assists a game. Johnson averages 15 points a game and has the ability to pace his team offensively like he did against Alabama State.
UTSA earned Southland’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by beating the McNeese State Cowboys 75-72 in the conference championship game. Gibson capped off an incredible tournament by scoring 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in the championship game. Despite his great play, the Roadrunners wouldn’t have won if it weren’t for their dynamic freshman forward, Jeromie Hill. Against McNeese State, Hill scored a game high 25 points and added five rebounds in 38 minutes of play.
The Roadrunners come into the game against Ohio State riding a six-game winning streak, three of which were won by five points or less. UTSA coach Brooks Thompson addressed the challenge his team faces going up against the No. 1 team in the country, “It's going to be very tough, but when you ask me what my thoughts are, we're very happy right now to be 1-0 in the NCAA tournament.” He later added, “ We're going to try to do everything we can to upset them.”
The Ohio State - UTSA game will tip-off at approximately 4:40 PM EST on Friday, March 18. The game will be televised by TNT.
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