February means it is crunch time in the race for conference championships. For mid-major teams, this means battling for seeding that improves the chances of winning the conference tournament. Depending on the format, byes and double byes are on the line. With most mid-major conferences being one-big leagues, every game matters from here on out.
Mid-Major Week Fourteen Takeaways
Panthers on the Prowl
Prairie View A&M avenged their loss to Texas Southern by defeating the Tigers 65-59 on Saturday. The win vaulted the Panthers back into first place in the SWAC. Devonte Patterson had a huge game, scoring 27 points and bringing down 14 rebounds. He also added six steals. Gerard Andrus tacked on 23 points of his own.
The difference came in the nitty-gritty stats for Prairie View. The Panthers held Texas Southern without a made field goal for the first nine minutes of the second half. They also outrebounded the Tigers 36-23 and shot 20-26 from the free-throw line compared to 10-22 for Texas Southern. The Panthers now control their own destiny for the top seed in the SWAC tournament. They are looking to defend their title and get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Northeast Gets Colonial
Robert Morris fell behind in the race for the NEC title when they lost to new mid-major Merrimack a few weeks ago. However, the Colonials have not lost since, defeating Sacred Heart 61-58 to stretch their season-high win streak to five on Saturday. Charles Bain led Robert Morris with 16 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc.
A.J. Bramah’s 14 points etched him into the school’s history books. The freshman became just the fifth player in school history to score in double figures in 20 consecutive games. The Colonials are now 7-1 on the season when they hold opponents below 60 points. With Merrimack falling to Long Island in overtime, Robert Morris is now tied with the Warriors at 10-2 in league play. However, with Merrimack not eligible for the NCAA Tournament due to it being their first year in Division I, Robert Morris is in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the conference tournament.
Big game today for junior Charles Bain, who made clutch plays, dropped a season-high 16 points and was feeling it from outside the arc, making 4-7 to lift @RMUMBasketball to its fifth straight win. Colonials now 10-2 in #NECMBB play. pic.twitter.com/X7QZuwnrum
— Ron Ratner (@NECHoopsRon) February 8, 2020
Brown Tangles the Ivy
After starting Ivy League play 0-2 with a pair of losses to Yale, Brown has won four in a row after defeating Harvard 72-71 on Saturday. Tamenang Choh completed an old-fashioned three-point play with half of a second remaining to seal the victory. He finished with 17 points overall. Brandon Anderson led all Bears with 22 points while going 7-9 from the charity stripe. Brown shot 28-32 from the free-throw line overall.
Brown has pushed themselves into third place in a league where Yale and Harvard were expected to battle it out for the title. The Bears have a huge road trip coming up against Penn and current second-place holder Princeton next weekend. Right now, a second-straight Ivy League Tournament appearance seems likely.
— Brown Basketball (@BrownBasketball) February 9, 2020
Mean Green Mean Business
North Texas has emerged as the frontrunner in Conference USA after becoming the first team to 10 league wins in a victory over UAB. Javion Hamlet and Umoja Gibson scored 13 points apiece to lead the Mean Green. Six of Hamlet’s 10 points came down the stretch to seal the 71-64 victory. North Texas clamped down defensively in the second half, holding UAB to just 36 percent from the field.
“We had a hard time guarding them in the first half but we put stops together,” said head coach Grant McCasland. “And that’s what good teams do. They get better and find a way as the game goes on.”
The victory also clinched a spot in the top pod of Conference USA Bonus Play. Introduced last season, bonus play groups teams together based on their conference records for the last four games of the season. This means that North Texas is guaranteed no worse than the fifth seed for the conference tournament, with a good shot at getting a bye.
— North Texas Basketball (@MeanGreenMBB) February 9, 2020
Mid-Major Top Performers
Jhivvan Jackson of UTSA continues to make appearances in this section. Jackson scored 45 in a win over Old Dominion on Thursday. That set a new Chartway Arena record and a record for most points scored by an opponent against the Monarchs. Jackson’s 28 first-half points were a new career-high for points in a half and outscored Old Dominion by one. Jackson continues to close the gap in the race for the Division I scoring title against Marquette’s Markus Howard.
Weber State’s Jerrick Harding also went off on Thursday, scoring 44 points against Sacramento State. That performance made Harding the top scorer in Weber State program history. He surpassed Jeremy Senglin while scoring 25 first-half points. Furthermore, the 44 points also set a new Weber State arena single-game scoring record.
Jalen Harris of Nevada scored a career-high 38 points in a blowout victory over Air Force on Tuesday. This was his third straight 30+ point outing, the first-ever stretch of 30 or more points by a Wolf Pack player in the Division I era. With a little more than 30 minutes of gameplay in the books, Harris had 33 points compared to Air Force’s 35.
Finally, Greg Parham of VMI scored a career-high 36 points against The Citadel on Saturday. Parham shot 13-14 from the field, including starting the game 9-9. He also was a perfect 6-6 from beyond the arc.