Southeastern Louisiana cruised and Sam Houston State shut down Oral Roberts in the second half as both teams advanced to the semifinals of the Southland Tournament, putting them just two games away from an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
However, now the road gets difficult: SHSU has played two games in as many days, while Southeastern Louisiana had to go reasonably hard on Thursday, and they'll soon play well-rested opponents in Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State. The Lumberjacks have the No. 6 defense in the country, per Ken Pomeroy, and the Demons have the fastest-paced offense in the country — awful news for the tired Bearkats.
Here's how Thursday's games panned out:
No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana, 85, No. 8 McNeese State, 65
The Lions took no mercy on the bottom team in the Southland bracket, putting up 53 points in the first half to open up a 17-point lead and expanding on that in the second half. Southeastern Louisiana went 9-of-18 from beyond the arc, with all five starters getting into double digits. Brandon Fortenberry led the way with 18.
No. 6 Sam Houston State, 58, No. 3 Oral Roberts, 55
The Bearkats struggled early, falling behind by seven at the half, but Oral Roberts only mustered 19 points in the second frame — allowing Sam Houston State to come from behind and knock off the third-seeded team in the conference.
Friday, March 15
6 p.m. ET, ESPN3: No. 4 Southeast Louisiana vs. No. 1 Stephen F. Austin
8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3: No. 6 Sam Houston State vs. No. 2 Northwestern State
Saturday, March 16
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Championship game