NCAA First Round 7:15 PM: Cleveland State makes just its 3rd appearance in ‘Big Dance’ against the Houston Cougars

NCAA Tournament: Round One

No. 15 Cleveland State vs. No. 2 Houston
Friday, March 19 | 7:15 p.m.
Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall | Bloomington, Indiana

Presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine

TruTV | Westwood One | 1420-WHK, 102.5 FM | whkradio.com

Game Notes

SETTING THE SCENE
The Cleveland State men’s basketball team makes its third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance on Friday night against the Houston Cougars at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. The Vikings won the #HLMBB regular season title before knocking off Purdue Fort Wayne (108-104), Milwaukee (71-65) and Oakland (80-69) on their way to the HL Tournament Title to clinch a March Madness appearance for the first time since 2009. Senior Torrey Patton was named the #HLMBB Championships MVP, averaging 22.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 51.0 FG% while playing nearly 40 minutes per night during Cleveland State’s run.

A WIN ON FRIDAY WOULD…
…give the Vikings at least one victory in every March Madness appearance in school history. It would also make Cleveland State the ninth 15-seed ever to defeat a two-seed in the tournament and the first since Middle Tennessee upset Michigan State in 2016. A victory would put the Vikes in position to take on the winner of No. 7 Clemson against No. 10 Rutgers.

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
In its first NCAA Tournament in 1986, 14-seed Cleveland State upset Indiana 83-79 in the opening round before toppling St. Joseph’s 75-69 to advance to the Sweet 16, where they fell 71-70 against Navy and eventual No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick David Robinson. In 2009, led by future two-time NBA champion Norris Cole, the No. 13 Vikings stunned No. 4 Wake Forest 84-69 before falling to No. 12 Arizona.

SCOUTING THE COUGERS
The Houston Cougars (24-3, 14-3) marched through the American Athletic Conference Tournament, dominating Cincinatti 91-54 in the title game to win their first conference title since 2010 as a member of Conference USA. The Cougars are making their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 22nd all-time. Quentin Grimes paces the Cougars in scoring (18.0) and minutes (32.2) while Dejon Jarreau distributes a team-high 4.4 assists per game to go with 1.4 steals. Justin Gorham leads the rebounding effort, hauling in 9.0 boards per game. Marcus Sasser ranks second in scoring (13.7) and assists (2.3). In its most recent NCAA Tournament, Houston logged victories over Georgia State and Ohio State en route to its first Sweet 16 since 1984.

ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS: VIKES WIN #HLMBB CHAMPIONSHIP

  • FINALS (Oakland).
    Double-doubles from Torrey Patton (23 pts., 10 reb.) and Tre Gomillion (16 pts., 13 reb.) led Cleveland State to its first Horizon League Championship since 2009, topping Oakland 80-69 in the final round of the conference tournament. The Vikes limited the Panthers to a .344 clip (21-61) from the field while four Cleveland State starters scored in double figures as the Vikings took the lead with 13:32 remaining in the opening half and never looked back.
  • SEMIFINALS (Milwaukee)
    The Cardiac Cleveland State Vikings notched their second straight come-from-behind win taking down Milwaukee on Monday, March 8 in the league’s semifinals contest. Down by 11 points midway through the second half, a trio of Jayson Woodrich three-pointers off the bench, a steal and two-handed slam dunk by Tre Gomillion and made free throws down the stretch sealed the victory for the Vikes.
  • QUARTERFINALS (Purdue Fort Wayne)…
    As part of an unpredictable and wild #HLMBB Championship Quarterfinal round, the Vikings threw the final punch in a back-and-forth triple overtime tilt against Purdue Fort Wayne, winning 108-104 in a historic game for the program. The victory came in Cleveland State’s fourth triple OT contest all-time and the first since 2013. It also marked the first 100-plus point effort against a Horizon League opponent since 2000 and only the second time the Vikings have hit the century mark  in postseason play (first since 1984) while snapping a two-year drought without a #HLMBB Tournament win. Cleveland State was able to overcome 16 made triples by PFW, the fourth-most by an opponent in a single game in program history.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Senior Torrey Patton has notched four straight double-doubles, including three #REACHtheHORIZON 10-plus point and 10-plus rebound outings. The forward leads the team with seven double-doubles on the season. Tre Gomillion joined Patton in the category twice during the tournament, tallying a 22-point, 13-rebound outing in the quarterfinals before a 16-point, 13-board performance in the finals. Patton was named the #HLMBB Championships MVP, averaging 22.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 51.0 FG% while playing nearly 40 minutes per night.

REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
The Vikings clinched a share of the regular season #HLMBB championship with a 67-55 win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 20,  marking the first time Cleveland State finished atop the league standings since the 2010-11 campaign and the fifth time ever finishing No. 1. Announced after  the victory, the Green and White entered the 2021 #REACHtheHORIZON Tournament as the overall top seed. Their 16 regular-season victories set an all-time program record for most wins in any conference/league.

TAKING HOME THE HARDWARE
Several Vikings picked up honors when the Horizon League announced its postseason awards, headlined by head coach Dennis Gates’ second consecutive Coach of the Year honor, which made him only the eighth coach in league history and first at Cleveland State to receive the award in back-to-back seasons. Junior Tre Gomillion was tabbed as Defensive Player of the Year while Torrey Patton became the first Viking to receive an All-League First Team nod since 2015. Additionally, both Gomillion and Deante Johnson were selected as members of the All-Defensive Team.

COURTESY CLEVELAND STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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