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Mike Lopresti | NCAA.com | December 15, 2021

8 things to know from Texas Southern's historic upset over No. 20 Florida

Purdue claims top spot in Power 36 men's college basketball rankings

This wasn’t just an upset. On paper, this was very nearly a do-you-believe-in-miracles upset.

“This is not who this team is, this is not who this program is,” a stricken Florida coach Mike White would say Monday night after his Gators were beaten — no, make that run over — by Texas Southern. “We were thoroughly outplayed, outcoached, out-everything.”

Eight things we should know about the 69-54 shocker.

1. When the night began, only six teams in the nation were still winless. Texas Southern was one of them at 0-7, having just lost at Louisiana Tech by 27 points. Florida was 6-1 and ranked No. 20. And at home.

2. It was the eighth road game for the Tigers in 28 days, in eight different states and four time zones. But it had not been a trail of blowouts-for-paychecks. Four of the losses had been by single digits — including at North Carolina State and Saint Mary’s. Winning sooner or later seemed not out of the question.

“We knew we could,” said PJ Henry, who scored 16 points Monday. “We just didn’t know when it was going to come, and today was the day it came.”

3. According to ESPN Stats, it was the first win for a Southwestern Athletic Conference team over a ranked SEC opponent since the Associated Press poll era began in 1936. Until Monday, the SWAC had been 0-51 against SEC-ranked teams.

4. Texas Southern came into the game 336th in the nation in field goal shooting but hit 54.4 percent. Joirdon Karl Nicholas took seven shots and made them all. The Tigers were 347th in 3-point percentage but went 5-for-11. Texas Southern committed 12 more turnovers and attempted 11 fewer free throws. That didn’t matter. Nor did the 0-7 record.

“When you have setbacks like we’ve had, you have an opportunity to either splinter or come together,” coach Johnny Jones said. “These guys have done a tremendous job of staying the course and coming together.”

NOTHING BUT NET: Here is the first men's college basketball NET rankings, headlined by No. 1 Purdue

5. The same Florida team that had beaten Ohio State and Florida State was behind by 20 points late in the game. The Gators were pummeled in rebounding 46-23, the Tigers’ Brison Gresham getting 13 by himself.

6. Texas Southern’s roster knows about March. The Tigers defeated Mount St. Mary’s 60-52 in the First Four last spring. Henry was also at that NCAA Tournament but playing for Hartford. Gresham was there, too, as a member of Final Four-bound Houston.

FINAL STATS: See the full boxscore from Texas Southern's upset over No. 20 Florida 

7. Jones understands what it’s like to swim with the big fish, having been a head coach at LSU. His first game at Texas Southern in 2018, the Tigers beat Baylor. Three weeks later, they won at No. 18 Oregon. Not long after that, another victory at Texas A&M.

“It’s things we’ve done before, so our expectations when we go into games are not only to get better, but to win,” he said. “We don’t ever go into a situation thinking we’re going to have a setback.”

Jones was a doused man in his locker room afterward. “Water bottles, everything we could throw at him,” Nicholas said.

8. The crowd back in Houston would no doubt like to show its appreciation for this moment but will have to wait a while. Texas Southern’s first home game is not until Jan. 8. Five more road challenges to go before then. The five opponents can’t say they haven’t been warned.

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