2013 NIT: First Round Surprises Create Extra Intrigue

USA TODAY Sports

A couple of lazy SEC teams were among the more surprising outcomes of the opening round in this year's National Invitaitonal Tournament.

We already showed you the "woe is us" summary that our cohorts over at Sea of Blue posted about Kentucky's miserable showing against a fired up Robert Morris squad. No need to go there again.

OK, fine. I had forgotten that John Calipari was from my Western Pennsylvania stomping grounds, and now that we sent his band of lazy freshmen packing, I shall return to gleefully forgetting that fact.

However, not to be outdone, Tennessee appeared equally disinterested in doing anything resembling the playing of competitive basketball. It says much of what you need to know that junior Daniel Coursey came into tonight averaging seven points per game for the Bears, was given the start to try and combat Tennessee's size, barely made his season average in minutes (19) because he couldn't stay out of foul trouble in the second half, and still finished with 15 points.

The Vols' starters couldn't defend without fouling, the bench contributed nothing offensively, and they failed repeatedly to generate any turnovers with their full court press. Mercer closed out the game going 12-14 from the free throw line and that was all she wrote.

That wasn't the only upset though, as Stony Brook took a road trip and made mincemeat of the Minutemen of UMass.

Normally it isn't the greatest thing for three players to take 70% of your shots on offense. However, when those three guys (Dave Coley, Anthony Jackson, and Jameel Warney) make those shots at a 60% clip, you can probably live with it. In the first 13:30 of the game, nobody else scored a point for the Seawolves, but they only trailed 25-21.

The Wolves then proceeded to close out the first half on a 17-0 run and never look back. UMass occasionally made things interesting, but they couldn't consistently keep the margin under 10 points, and Stony Brook cruised to the next round.

The rest:

  • Charleston Southern kept things interesting by making 14 three-pointers, half of those coming from Saah Nimley, but they trailed the entire second half and were never quite able to get themselves out of the hole they dug against Southern Miss.
  • I will tell you two facts that will explain everything about Detroit's 83-68 loss to Arizona State: the Titans forced 24 turnovers and still lost by 15, and Sun Devils swingman Carrick Felix' 21 points and 7 boards was the second best performance on his team.
  • For lack of a better term, Long Beach State was absolutely humiliated by Baylor. The Bears posted a run of 19-4 in the first half, and then topped that with a 29-4 run in the second half. The 49ers made 21 shots during the course of the game - Baylor made 16 three-pointers (on 23 attempts - that's 70%)! I'll just stop there.
  • Indiana State was no match for the Iowa Hawkeyes, as Justin Gant led the Sycamores with 16 points on 6-14 shooting, and the rest of the team shot 36% - it says it all that Jake Odum finished the game with more turnovers (6) than points (5).
  • The suspension and dismissal of leading scorer Demario Mayfield was too much for Charlotte to overcome in their matchup with Providence - not surprising, as they ended the season losing 7 of 11 without him. They kept things close, but the shots stopped falling in the last two minutes - or at least they stopped falling until it was too late for a frenetic late game rush that closed the gap, which occurred at the same time Providence commenced draining all their free throws.
  • On Tuesday, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama and BYU made quick work of Niagara, Norfolk State, Northeastern, and Washington respectively. Stanford, Denver, Louisiana Tech and St. Johns snuck their way past Stephen F. Austin, Ohio, Florida State, and Saint Joes, respectively.
Tonight starts the second round with a bang as Denver travels to face Maryland, while Baylor-Arizona State, Robert Morris-Providence, and Mercer-BYU loom as intriguing future matchups.
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