Tarleton State hosts Texas Southern in opening round of CIT


STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State Men’s basketball will host SWAC Runner-up Texas Southern in the opening round of the Lou Henson Classic a part of The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, presented by BSN SPORTS Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Wisdom Gym.

The Texans will compete in their second-straight postseason tournament and will host their first postseason tournament as a member of Division I. Wisdom Gym will host a pair of first-round matchups and a second-round game on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Texans will open the tournament with a 6 p.m. tip against Texas Southern. Fellow WAC member, Abilene Christian will battle Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to conclude the first round at 8 p.m.  The winners will battle on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to be awarded the Lou Henson Classic Championship and earn a spot in the CIT Semifinals.

Both of Tuesday night’s games will be broadcasted on ESPN+. Byron Anderson and Scott Garner will be on the call. Kyle Crews will have the call on the Tarleton Sports Radio Network for the first game. General Admission tickets are on sale now. One-day passes for each round are $15, and for two-day passes that give access to all three games, tickets are $25. All Tarleton State students, faculty and staff receive free entry, but need to claim tickets. Tickets can be purchased and claimed here.

The Texans are fresh off their first WAC Semifinals appearance in Las Vegas last week. Tarleton dropped a tight-battle 87-84 to UT Arlington after falling on the wrong end of a last second shot by the Mavs’ Brandyn Talbot. Devon Barnes led the team in scoring for the tenth time this season with 24.

Tarleton State had its best regular season in the D1 era with a 23-9 overall record and a program best 16-4 in conference play. Acting head coach Joseph Jones was named the WAC Coach of the Year after filling in for coach Gillispie after the fourth game this season. Jakorie Smith became the first Texan to earn First-Team All-WAC honors. Senior KiAndre Gaddy was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a selection to the WAC All-Defensive Team.

The Texans enter their second postseason tournament in their second year eligible. Last season, Tarleton accepted its first bid to a post conference tournament postseason with a bid to the CBI. The Texan earned the seventh seed and dropped to tenth-seeded Radford who ended up losing to eventual CBI champion, Charlotte.

Texas Southern enters the postseason after falling in the SWAC title game to Grambling State who ended up with a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers dropped their first seven games of the season all road losses. Five of those seven losses came to teams that earned a bid to the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Head coach Johnny Jones is familiar to Tarleton acting head coach Joseph Jones, who played against Jones’ North Texas team while Joseph Jones was an Aggie. On December 6, 2005, Jones erupted for a career-high 35 points and 13 rebounds against the Mean Green of North Texas. Jones accounted for nearly half of the Aggies points in the 72-70 win.

Tarleton owns the all-time series, 2-0 with the Tigers. The Texans have won both previous meetings, both coming in Wisdom Gym. TSU has outscored Texas Southern by 36.5 points per game in the two previous contests.

The CIT is one of four major postseason tournaments for NCAA Division I programs. Due to the Texans still being in their reclassification process, Tarleton is not eligible by current NCAA rules to compete in NCAA-sanctioned postseasons, the NCAA Tournament, and the NIT. The CIT was a longstanding tournament before COVID-19, running tournaments from 2009 to 2019. The 2024 field is the revival of the 10-year event.

The winner of the Lou Henson Classic will advance to be one of the final four standing teams in the CIT presented by BSN SPORTS. The semifinals and championship will be played the following week at campus sites to be determined.

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