Alcorn opens defense of SWAC crown

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Alcorn State will be hoping for a sequel to last year’s trip to the NCAA Tournament as the Braves are the top seed at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament which tips off today in Biloxi.

Alcorn won the tournament last year in Baton Rouge, La., to earn an automatic bid.

The Braves lost to Stanford in the first round.

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In that game, sophomore Marcus Fleming of Fayette was picked as Alcorn’s Player of the Game, hitting 5 of 8 shots and finishing with 10 points.

&uot;That helped me a lot,&uot; Fleming said. &uot;I figured that if I did not that if I did not do anything in that game, my confidence level would not be as high as it is now.&uot;

Alcorn repeated as regular season champs this season, finishing 18-9 overall and 15-3 in league play, currently holding an eight-game winning streak.

The Braves meet Grambling in a first round game at 8:30 p.m.

Fleming leads the Braves in scoring (15.8 ppg) and in the SWAC in scoring. He is also third in field goal percentage (.543) and eighth in rebounds (7.3 per game).

&uot;I am not playing as well as I want to be, but I am playing pretty good,&uot; Fleming said. &uot;It just seems like every little mistake I make during the game, I know I am going to do it before it even happens. Once I get past that stage, I’ll be OK.&uot;

Alcorn swept Grambling 97-71 at home and 82-61 in Grambling during the season.

Grambling is led by guards Alfred Parker (12.5 points a game) and Keith Howell (10.1 ppg).

Following a 102-90 win over Jarvis Christian on Dec. 1, 1999, the Tigers went on to lose their next 24 games. There were a few close calls such as a 60-58 loss to Jackson State and 86-83 loss to Prairie View.

Alcorn leads the SWAC in scoring margin (+4.3), field goal percentage (.446), free throw percentage (.691) and rebounding margin (+2.8).

If Alcorn wins, the Braves will meet the Jackson State-Alabama State winner Friday at 7 p.m.

&uot;This year we have a smaller lineup, but the talent level is more than we had last year,&uot;&160;Fleming said. &uot;We need to go out and play ball with the same intensity each time out. If we do that, it will be pretty easy for us to go to the ‘Big Dance.’&uot;

Other first round games today include Jackson State versus Alabama State at 11 a.m.; Texas Southern versus Mississippi Valley 30 minutes after the Jackson State-Alabama State game and Southern versus Prairie View at 5 p.m.

The other semifinal contest between the winner of the Southern-Prairie View and Texas Southern-Mississippi Valley contests will tip off at 5 p.m.

The championship game is set for 3 p.m.