To make the Elite Eight, the Statesmen have to take on the Tuskegee University Tigers in the finals of the NCAA Division II Men’s South Region Tournament, referred to as the Sweet 16, tonight at 6 p.m. CST/7 p.m. EST in Lakeland, Fla. on the campus of Florida Southern University.
The Statesmen, third seeded at 26-6, have won two tough ball games to advance to tonight’s championship. Delta State edged out sixth seeded Barry University 82-77 in overtime on Saturday and defeated second seeded St. Leo 70-61 on Sunday.
Delta State has shot the ball well in the region by shooting 50.5 percent (51-of-101) from the floor. That percentage also includes a 37.8 percent (14-of-37) shooting performance from 3-point land. Delta State has helped itself out with the freebees in the tournament by shooting 72 percent (36-of-50) at the free throw line, and DSU
Sophomore guard Jack Madgen scored a career-best 32 points against Barry, while freshman guard Devin Schmidt tallied 22 points to lead the Statesmen against St. Leo. Senior forward Willie Readus has been consistent in the tournament for the Statesmen by scoring 35 total points with 21 rebounds in two region games for an average of 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game in the tournament. Madgen has scored 41 points in the region tournament, while Schmidt as racked up 31 points.
The Tigers, 20-11, have played two barnburners of their own. The Tigers, seeded eighth, downed top seeded Florida Southern 98-95 on Saturday and edged out fourth seeded North Alabama 93-87 on Sunday.
Tuskegee has also shot the ball well by shooting 53.3 percent (64-of-120) from the floor in the tournament. From three-point land, the Tigers are hitting 35.7 percent (10-of-28) of their shots. Tuskegee has had no problems going to the free throw line as they’ve shot 72 free throws in the region tournament. The Tigers have taken advantage of their free shots by shooting 73.6 percent at the charity stripe.
Tuskegee used a great team effort to defeat North Alabama as six players scored in double-figures with Richard Dixon leading the way with 22 points. Dixon is the Tigers’ leading scorer of the tournament with 45 total points, followed by Dean with 41 points and Foster with 28 points. Tuskegee’s bench has played a big factor in the team’s success by scoring 85 points in the tournament.
In other tournament news, all eight teams — Delta State, Tuskegee, Florida Southern, Barry, West Alabama, North Alabama, St. Leo and Tampa — that have played each other in the region have proven to be evenly matched as every game has been decided by no more than nine points.