The 2013 NIT got off to an exciting start highlighted by Robert Morris pulling off the 8/1 upset over the defending National Championship Kentucky Wildcats. The seeds held true to form other than the Kentucky loss save for two fives beating two fours in Louisiana Tech knocking off Florida State in Tallahassee and St. John’s taking down Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia on a game winning shot by Sir’Dominic Pointer, captain of the college basketball all-name team.
Four of the nine games were decided by single digits in what was an exciting opening to what looked like an exciting tournament from the outset. Let’s take a look back at all the happenings on day one of the 2013 NIT:
(2) Maryland 86, Niagara (7) 70
Maryland, my pick to win the NIT, got off to a good start with a sixteen point win at home over Niagara, the regular season MAAC champions. The Purple Eagles went basket for basket with the Terrapins in the first half with the halftime score being all square at 35. The Terps flexed their muscles in the second half, however, and ran off a 21-2 run early in the second half to put the game away as they coasted the rest of the way for the opening round win.
Nick Faust’s double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds led the way for Maryland, but two other Terps — Logan Aronhalt and Seth Allen — also scored 15 points. Dez Wells scored 12 and had the play of the game with an incredible acrobatic lay-up in the second half. Antoine Mason and Ameen Tanksley led the way for Niagara with 24 and 18 points respectively. With only two seniors on the roster, Niagara should be back in postseason play of some sort next year.
(5) St. John’s 63, Saint Joseph’s (4) 61
The Kentucky/Robert Morris finish gets all the attention, but it’s hard to top the finish to the St. John’s-Saint Joseph’s game in Philadelphia. St. John’s had to overcome a 12-point second half deficit on the road in order to pull off this win and make it into the second round of the NIT. St. John’s led by two before Ronald Roberts Jr. hit two free throws to tie the game with five seconds to go. That’s when Sir’Dominic Pointer took the ball down the court and hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to crush the home crowd and end the Hawks’ season.
Jakarr Sampson was the leading scorer for the Red Storm with 16 points, but it was Pointer’s game as the buzzer beater capped a 6-for-7 shooting night. He scored 15 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 5 assists. St. John’s didn’t have much of an answer for the Hawks leading scorer Carl Jones, who scored 21 points in the losing effort.
(5) Louisiana Tech 71, Florida State (4) 66
It was the Raheem Appleby show as Louisiana Tech went to Tallahassee and knocked off Florida State to continue what has been an outstanding season for the Bulldogs. Appleby eviscerated the Seminoles with 27 points on 12-for-19 shooting from the field. Appleby came up big in the second half by scoring 21 of his 27 points. At one point during the second half, Appleby scored 10 straight points for the Bulldogs to turn a 47-44 deficit into a 54-51 lead.
Even Michael Snaer’s strong performance wasn’t enough to overcome Appleby’s second half explosion. Snaer played all forty-minutes and scored 24 points. Louisiana Tech had a disappointing end to their strong season, but they could easily make some noise in the NIT.
The Bulldogs will go on to play the winner of tomorrow’s Southern Miss/Charleston Southern game.
(8) Robert Morris 59, Kentucky (1) 57
Last season, Kentucky’s season ended in New Orleans with the Wildcats cutting down the nets as the National Champions. This year, Kentucky’s season ended in Moon Township, Pennsylvania in the first round of the NIT as David slayed Goliath with Robert Morris earning quite possibly the biggest win in school history.
The Colonials built up a thirteen point lead in the second half, but the Wildcats rallied to the tie the game late. Kentucky’s rally occurred after Lucky Jones was hit with a flagrant two foul on Archie Goodwin with 3:41 to play. A pair of Mike McFadden free throws with 9-seconds remaining gave Robert Morris the lead and Kyle Wiltjer missed a three at the buzzer as the fans who packed the Charles L. Sewall Center rushed the court in exuberance over their team’s triumph over the defending National Champions.
Fittingly, a disappointing season for Kentucky ended with a disappointing defeat. Robert Morris advances to play the winner of tomorrow’s Providence/Charlotte game.
(1) Alabama 62, Northeastern (8) 43
Alabama blitzed Northeastern early opening up a 24-7 lead, but the Huskies showed some fight and battled back with a 16-4 run to end the half and cut Alabama’s lead to 28-23. Four quick points in the second half cut the lead to one, but then Alabama kicked into another gear and went on a 22-0 run and coasted from there on out for the opening round victory. It was a balanced attack for the Crimson Tide with 5 guys scoring at least 9 points led by Levi Randolph’s 13.
The highlights of the game came in the second half with dunks from Retin Obasohan and Levi Randolph. Obasohan’s came on an alley-oop from Trevor Lacey, and Randolph’s came on a baseline drive that he finished emphatically. Alabama’s defense, as usual, was the story of the game as they held Northeastern to 33% shooting and forced 15 turnovers.
(1) Virginia 67, Norfolk State (8) 56
It wasn’t Virginia’s finest performance, and it certainly didn’t do anything to prove that they belonged in the NCAA Tournament, but it was enough to take down Norfolk State, the regular season champions of the MEAC. The Cavaliers had 16 turnovers and 15 missed free throws, but they held Norfolk State to 27% shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers.
Akil Mitchell and Justin Anderson scored 15 points apiece to lead Virginia into the second round of the NIT. Rob Johnson and Pendarvis Williams scored 16 each for the Spartans, but they shot a combined 9-for-30 from the field.
Virginia will move on to play Saint Joseph’s in the second round.
(3) Denver 61, Ohio (6) 57
Despite holding a clear advantage in shooting percentage (54% to 42%), it took some strong defense late for Denver to escape with a 61-57 win over Ohio at Magness Arena. The Bobcats were able to stay in the game thanks to their dominance on the glass leading to twelve more shot attempts than the Pioneers. They held a 32-21 edge on the boards thanks to Ivo Baltic’s 15 rebounds in 27 minutes. Jon Smith grabbed 6 rebounds, all of which were offensive to lead to second chance points for Ohio.
D.J. Cooper had a chance to put Ohio in the lead with around 20-seconds remaining, but his layup attempt was blocked by Chris Udofia. Reggie Keely had a chance to tie the game late, but he couldn’t convert on a layup attempt as Denver got the win. Cooper had 16 points and 4 assists in the losing effort, but was a disappointing 5-for-14 from the field in his final game as a Bobcat. Brett Olsen was the leading scorer for Denver with 15 points, and Udofia and Cam Griffin both finished with 14 points.
Denver moves on to take on Maryland in the second round.
(3) BYU 90, Washington (6) 79
Tyler Haws had a night to remember for BYU as he led the charge in BYU’s offensive explosion against Washington with 37 points on 15-for-24 shooting. Brandon Davies and Matt Carlino chipped in 22 and 20 respectively to come up with 79 of the Cougars’ 90 points in their 90-79 win over Washington. Washington simply had no answer for that trio, especially Haws, who scored at will all night long in Provo.
Washington got strong performances from C.J. Wilcox (20 points) and Shawn Kemp Jr. (15 points and 11 rebounds), but it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive clinic that Haws put on. BYU will move on to play the winner of tomorrow’s Tennessee/Mercer game.
(4) Stanford 58, Stephen F. Austin (5) 57
Stanford got all they wanted and more from Stephen F. Austin, the regular season champions from the Southland Conference. The Cardinal led for most of the second half, but miscues allowed the Lumberjacks to make a run at the end, and they nearly pulled off the upset. Desmond Haymon missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won the game for Stephen F. Austin.
Dwight Powell led the way for Stanford with a double-double for 12 points and 15 rebounds that included this thunderous jam off an alley-oop. Stephen F. Austin’s Taylor Smith was the game’s leading scorer with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
Stanford moves on to take on Alabama in a homecoming for senior guard Gabriel Harris, who is from Birmingham.
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