Alcorn upends Prairie View, land in today’s title game

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. &045; Quit with all the retirement talk already. Alcorn head coach Davey Whitney does not want to hear it.

He feels &045; and rightly so &045; he has a couple more wins to add to his collection of now 565 victories after Friday night’s Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal upset of top-seeded Prairie View, 71-64.

&uot;I thought Prairie View probably lost their poise a little bit,&uot; said Whitney, 73, in his 27th year. &uot;They probably had the most fans ever to see the play with them and were hyped up. But we stuck to our game plan and did a great job executing.&uot;

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Alcorn (14-18) got 23 points off the bench from Dion Callans, who also led the Braves with seven boards, on 9 of 10 shooting from the field.

The telling statistic of the game was bench scoring, as Tori Harris, who sank the game-winning free throws in Tuesday’s win over Alabama State, chipped with 11 points to give the Braves a 38-14 advantage from their reserves.

After he got little production from three starters &045; Callans, DeAndre Jones and Cory Jackson &045; last weekend in two Texas games, including a loss at Prairie View, Whitney wanted to send a message.

&uot;I think those three guys understood what I was trying to do,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve got to have that too because we have a team philosophy that there’ll be a time and place for each one of them.&uot;

A 3-pointer from the SWAC Player of the Year Gregory Burks, who finished with a team-high 17 points, gave the Panthers an 11-4 cushion less than four minutes into the game.

On the strength of a 10-1 run, capped by a Callans’ layup, the Braves took their second lead of the game, 17-12, with exactly 13 minutes left in the opening half.

&uot;We just didn’t move our feet on defense, which means we weren’t moving our feet on offense, either,&uot; Panthers head coach Jerome Francis said. &uot;They jumped on us, they made their adjustments and won the game.&uot;

Much of the credit can be directed at Alcorn’s defensive effort on Malachi Thurston, the 6-7 SWAC Newcomer of the year, who took only eight shots and ended with 12 points.

After two losses this season, Whitney keyed his team on Burks and Thurston, who had combined for 60 percent of the scoring production against the Braves.