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Jackson State wins SWAC for first NCAA trip in 7 years

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Trey Johnson scored 33 points to lead Jackson State to an 81-71 win over Mississippi Valley State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship Saturday night.

The win sends the Tigers (21-13) into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years.

After Jackson State squandered a 16-point halftime lead, Johnson saved the Tigers by scoring seven points in a two-minute span, helping turn a tie game into a 74-65 Jackson State lead with less than 3 minutes to play.

Johnson, the SWAC player of the year, scored 19 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shooting, and Jackson State built a 45-29 halftime lead.

Mississippi Valley State (18-15) battled back in the second half behind the shooting of Tychicus Snow. After going 0-for-3 from the field in the first half, Snow sank three consecutive 3-pointers in a two-minute span.

His fourth 3-pointer and a trio of fastbreak layups allowed Mississippi Valley pull to 55-51 with 13 minutes remaining, and the gap was narrowed to 59-57 midway through the half.

The Delta Devils tied the game at 65 on another 3-pointer by Snow with 5{ minutes to play. Jackson State responded by ripping off nine consecutive points -- seven by Johnson.

Johnson entered the game as the nation's No. 2 scorer with an average of 26.9 points per game, behind only the 28.1 average of Virginia Military's Reggie Williams.

Carl Lucas led Mississippi Valley with 22 points and Snow added 15.