National Invitation Tournament - First Round Overview, Wednesday Session

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Miami (FL) 85, Florida Atlantic 62

Miami defeated Florida Atlantic at home in Coral Gables, Fla., in the first round of the 2011 National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night. The Hurricanes outscored the Owls 15-1 during a five minute stretch in the second half to tuck away this win and thereby secure a second round date at home. Miami, as the second seed in its NIT sub regional, gets the home date by virtue of being a higher seed than its next opponent, third-rated Missouri State.

The Hurricanes were led by Malcolm Grant with 23 points, and Reggie Johnson with 14 points and 20 rebounds in the victory. The Owls were led by Greg Gantt with 17 points and Dennis Marvin with 15. FAU finished its season with a 21-11 mark.

Virginia Tech 79, Bethune-Cookman 54

Virginia Tech, denied the NCAA tournament yet again this year, crushed Bethune-Cookman in the first round of the 2011 NIT tournament on Wednesday night. This is the Hokies’ fifth appearance in eight years in the invitational field. The Hokies will host Wichita State in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. The Hokies, as the top seed in their NIT subregional, will play at home through the NIT quarterfinals if they can keep winning. This matchup against Wichita State will probably be Tech’s toughest test on the road to New York and the NIT’s own final four.

Bethune-Cookman, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champion, finished the season with a 21-13 mark. Garrius Holloman led the Wildcats with 20 points. The Hokies were led by Jeff Allen with 19 points, Malcolm Delaney with 13 points, and Manny Atkins with 12 points.


Wichita State 76, Nebraska 49

David Kyles paced a balanced Wichita State attack with 13 points, as the Shockers thrashed the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).   Senior J.T. Durley added 12 points and senior wing Graham Hatch chipped in 11 points, hitting 3-of-4 three-point shots.  The Shockers, led by Kyles’ four three-pointers, were 11-of-26 from three-point range.  

Wichita State doubled up Nebraska the half, taking a 40-20 halftime lead, and never looked back, outscoring the ‘Huskers 36-29 in the second half to coast to victory. Lance Jeter and Jorge Brian Diaz both scored 12 points for the ‘Huskers, who finish the season 19-13. The Shockers improved to 25-8 with the win, earning a match-up with Virginia Tech in the second round of the NIT.  

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Northwestern 70, Milwaukee 61

Jon Shurna scored 25 points and Michael Thompson added 20 points, leading the Northwestern Wildcats to a victory over the visiting Milwaukee Panthers in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).  The Wildcats jumped all over the Panthers from the opening tip, starting the game on an 18-0 run, and taking a 38-26 halftime lead.  Milwaukee got as close as 62-56 in the second half, but the Wildcats quickly regained command, increasing the lead to 68-56 lead on back-to-back three-pointers.

Milwaukee was led by Tony Meier, who made five three-point shots and scored 19 points.  The Panthers finish the season 19-14.  
The Wildcats improved to 19-13 with the win and will be facing Boston College in an NIT second round contest.  

California 77, Mississippi 74

Jorge Gutierrez paced a balanced California attack with 25 points, as the Golden Bears beat the visiting Mississippi Rebels in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).  Gutierrez nailed two free throws with 14.8 seconds left to play to secure the Golden Bears’ win.  Allen Crabbe added 20 points and junior forward Hamper Kamp chipped in 11 points for California.

Mississippi was led by senior guard Chris Warren, who scored 23 points to become just the fourth player in Southeastern Conference history to conclude his career with 2,000 points and 400 assists.  The Rebels finished the season 20-14. Cal improved to 18-14 with the win.  The Golden Bears will face first-seed Colorado in an NIT second round contest.


Colorado 88, Texas Southern 74

The Colorado Buffaloes defeated the Texas Southern Tigers in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament from the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday night. Mere days after being left out of the NCAA Tournament, head coach Tad Boyle’s club regrouped to post a convincing victory. Alec Burks scored 27 points and seven rebounds to aid the Buffaloes to the second round. Cory Higgins added 25 points. Colorado blazed out of the gates and took the fight to the Tigers early. The Buffaloes led by 15 points at halftime and coasted in the second half. Harrison Smith had 24 points to lead Texas Southern, who lost in the SWAC tournament. The Tigers finished 19-13 on the year. Colorado will host California in the second round.


Washington State 85, Long Beach State 74

The Washington State Cougars topped the Long Beach State 49ers in the NIT’s last first-round game late Wednesday night at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Washington. Wazzu star Klay Thompson poured in 25 points to lead coach Ken Bone’s Cougars, who hit 50 percent of their shots and banged in 8 of 18 3-pointers against a relatively toothless Long Beach defense. Washington State rolled to a 36-18 halftime lead, and although the 49ers, the Big West Conference regular-season champions, pulled within six points in the second half, Washington State was able to continuously score and blunt every run Long Beach made. The Cougars, as the second seed in their NIT sub regional, will host a second-round game against third-seeded Oklahoma State late Monday night in Pullman.

By David Minter, Zach Bloxham, and Tim Coyne
DFN Sports Staff Writers




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