Cal Poly wasn't getting a whole lot of respect entering the tournament. Its 13-19 record was the worst since Oakland entered the big dance in 2005 with the same record. The Mustangs more than passed the eye test to earn the right to play the Wichita State Shockers on Friday as they held off the performance of a lifetime from Tigers center Aaric Murray.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 44-32 lead at halftime on super efficient shooting and ball control. Cal Poly had just one turnover at half and was shooting the lights out of the ball. The Mustangs entered the game shooting 41 percent as a team, good for 319th in the nation. They finished the game 57 percent as a team, led by Dave Nwaba's 17 points and Chris Eversley's 19 points. Cal Poly finished with a season high in points when it counted most.
Texas Southern kept on creeping back largely because Murray was dragging his team kicking and screaming across the floor. Murray was playing a game of one on five at times as he tore up Cal Poly down low to the tune of 38 points. This was just one of many highlights.
Unfortunately, basketball is a team effort, and the Tigers just didn't have it in them. Outside of forward Jose Rodriguez, no one on Texas Southern was willing to take a shot. Murray finished with 23 field goal attempts and the rest of the team combined shot 27. Murray finished with more points than the rest of his team combined, 31.
As fun as it would've been to see Aaric Murray versus Wichita State, Cal Poly earned the win and the chance to try and stop the Wichita State machine.