Cards laid, cards played

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2003

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. &045; Davey Whitney knows when it is time to fold.

The 73-year-old Alcorn basketball head coach has had Brave fans try to talk him into staying another year or two and go for win 600, as he currently sits at 565 career wins.

&uot;I know there is a movement to keep me here, but I think that would be like climbing the Himalayas,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;I’d have to think about it, but I really have no desire to coach again.&uot;

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Don’t crack open the bubbly for the &uot;Whiz’s&uot; retirement party just yet. This is the same coach who was talked into another year after last season was to be his last.

Allan Lovett scored 23 points and Ra’Kim Hollis had 18 points and nine assists for Texas Southern (18-12), which will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1995, in a 77-68 victory over Whitney’s Braves Saturday in the championship game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament at the Fair Park Arena.

”I can’t do anything without my right-hand man here (Lovett), but he said he got my back,” said Hollis, the tournament MVP. ”He said we would win.”

Brian Jackson had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead Alcorn (14-19), the tournament champion from a year ago. Tori Harris added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Jason Cable and DeAndre Jones had 10 points apiece.

”The crux of the thing was that we did not play with any intensity tonight nor did we play an intelligent ballgame,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;Texas Southern did what they had to do. They deserved the game because they played better.&uot;

Texas Southern used a nine-point run in the first half to take control and led 40-30 at the break.

Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 71-66 with a minute to play, but the Tigers shot 6-of-10 from the foul line in the final minute to seal the victory.

But the next offensive possession down the court is where the Braves showed their youth and inexperience when they turned the ball over.

&uot;We’ve got to feel proud of what we’ve done because Texas Southern is one of the premier teams in the SWAC,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;You got to give them credit for what they did and us too from where we came from.

&uot;This is a much more courageous team than the one that started out 0-4 in the conference. I’m proud of them even though we didn’t accomplish the goal we set out to.&uot;