Texas Southern forward John Walker III (24) and forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas (5) celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against Florida, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

The Texas Southern men’s basketball team managed the impossible Monday night.

A road-weary and winless Tigers team went into Gainesville, Florida and came away with a stunning 69-54 win over the 20th-ranked Florida Gators. It is the first time a SWAC team has defeated a ranked opponent in the Associated Press era, which goes back to 1936. Ranked SEC teams had also enjoyed a 51-0 record against the SWAC prior to Monday night.

That all changed thanks to a determined TSU squad that improved to 1-7 during a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule. The Tigers trailed Florida (6-2) early on, but thanks to an 11-2 run, TSU took a 35-25 lead at halftime.

From there the Tigers kept the pressure on the Gators and managed to hold on. 

Texas Southern forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas (5) dunks over Florida forward Colin Castleton (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Reserves P.J. Henry and Jordoin Karl Nichols led the way, combining for 30 points off the bench for TSU. Henry finished with 16 points and three assists, which Nichols was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor to finish with 14 points on the night. 

TSU also outrebounded Florida 46-23 which proved to be pivotal.

The Tigers have played all road games so far this season, losing at Oregon, St. Mary’s Washington, Air Force, North Carolina State, BYU and La. Tech. Their first home game isn’t until the SWAC season when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Jan. 8.

I've been with The Defender since August 2019. I'm a long-time sportswriter who has covered everything from college sports to the Texans and Rockets during my 16 years of living in the Houston market....