The number of non-power conference schools remaining in the 2011 NIT was reduced to three heading into the quarterfinal round which begins tomorrow.
Regular season Missouri Valley Conference champion Missouri State was eliminated by second-seeded Miami, falling 81-72 in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes shot better from the floor and finished with a +5 advantage on the glass, but even in defeat nothing could dampen the performance of the Bears Adam Leonard. The senior guard scored a season-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 7-of-8 from beyond the arc. It was just the second 20-point effort of the season for Leonard and nearly tripled his regular season scoring average of 27 points. Despite the effort, the Missouri State couldn't overcome Durand Scott and Co., with the sophomore leading the way with 20 points and 4 assists.
In the other game of the night featuring a mid-major team, New Mexico fell to Alabama 74-67, with the Crimson Tide getting 43 total points from Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford. One of the top defensive teams in the country, 'Bama frustrated the Lobos all night, limiting them to 38% shooting, including just 9-of-28 from beyond the arc. Games like this only stand to further fuel the fire behind Tide fans who felt their team was plenty deserving of an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. After another impressive effort, particularly at the defensive end of the floor, it's hard to disagree with them.