Hutchinson, KS—For the third time in program history, the South Plains (TX) Texans captured the NJCAA DI Men's Basketball National Championship with a thrilling 98-95 victory over Southern Idaho at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The 13-seeded Texans tied the record for lowest seed to win the national title.
South Plains, who made an improbable run through the NJCAA Region V Tournament to qualify for the national tournament, won five games in six days to capture the title. South Plains finished the season with eight consecutive wins, including six against teams ranked in the final NJCAA DI Men's Basketball Poll.
Two of the most prolific scoring teams in the tournament, Southern Idaho entered Saturday's matchup as the third highest-scoring team in the nation. South Plains matched the Golden Eagles every step of the way through the first half. As South Plains had done each of the previous four tournament games, the Texans went into the intermission with a lead, though minimal at 51-50.
South Plains built its lead to seven early on in the second half, but a spurt from Southern Idaho gave the No. 10 seed Golden Eagles a 61-59 lead with 15:38 to play. The lead lasted over six minutes, but South Plains responded as Isaiah Maurice hit a jumper at the 9:24 mark to put South Plains ahead 76-75, a lead that stood to the final horn. The Texans hit seven free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
- The Texans third title came in its fourth national championship appearance. South Plains also won the championship in 2008 and 2012.
- South Plains joins the 2016 Salt Lake (UT) team as the lowest seed to win the men's national championship.
- With its five tournament wins, South Plains improved to 26-7 all-time in tournament action.
- Freshman Keith McGee earned Tournament MVP honors for the Texans after averaging 17.6 points while shooting 56.0 percent from three-point range.
- Head coach Steve Green of South Plains was awarded the Coach of the Tournament Award for the third time in his 18-year career at South Plains. Green becomes just the fourth coach to win three national titles at the Division I level.
- Southern Idaho average 100.8 points per game throughout the tournament
- The Golden Eagles placed a pair of players on the All-Tournament Team in Tommy Burton and Charles Jones Jr.
- Keshon Montague was awarded the Small Guy honor after leading Barton to a pair of shocking upsets early in the tournament.