LEVELLAND — Earning a first-round bye and a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NJCAA Men's Basketball National Tournament, No. 5 South Plains will take on No. 21 South Georgia State at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena as the Texans look to bring home the program's fourth national title.
Making their way back to Hutch for the fourth consecutive season, and the 11th time under Hall of Fame coach Steve Green, South Plains will do battle with the Hawks, who upset No. 12 Salt Lake Community College 93-89 in overtime Monday.
"We're excited to go back to the National Tournament and we've been building for this all season," Green said. "We lost our last two games, and we were banged up and had some injuries, but that's not an excuse because we have a lot of good players. We were not the same team towards the end, but hopefully, we're building back towards that. "
SPC comes in averaging just over 83 points per game, shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from distance. South Plains is led by 6-7 sophomore Rivaldo Soares, who is averaging 14.4 points per game on the year, shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from the 3-point line, and has scored in double figures 13 times this season. South Plains will also look to Myron Gardner, who comes in averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 50 percent on the season. Gardner is shooting over 40 percent from distance, and also averages 7.7 boards and 2.3 assists per game.
South Georgia State College comes in as winners of 11 straight with a record of 23-3 on the season. The Hawks are averaging 87.8 points per game, shooting 49.7 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent from 3. Sophomore forward Jalen King leads South Georgia State on the offensive end, averaging 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Should the Texans take care of business Wednesday, they will play at 6 p.m. on Thursday against either No. 4 John A Logan, and No. 13 Ranger College.
"We have to play within ourselves," Green said. "We have some guys who have individual talent and sometimes want to step outside the offense, and we have to find the middle of the road. We have to trust in their ability, and they have to trust our coaches, and if we do that I'm hoping it will be enough to take us all the way through Saturday."
The entire tournament will stream live via the NJCAA Network, which can be accessed using the 'Watch' tab at spctexans.com.
NJCAA Men's Basketball National Tournament bracket: https://d2o2figo6ddd0g.cloudfront.net/2/b/okyrz1zn8nc3fn/2020-21_DI_MBB_Champ_-_Bracket_04-19_v3.pdf