UC Irvine Travels to SMU in NIT Wednesday Night

 

NIT Bracket

IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine will play at SMU in a first-round game of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Wednesday night in Dallas, Texas.

The game will start at 6:00 p.m. (PT) from Moody Coliseum and will be televised on ESPN2.  This will be the first meeting between UCI and SMU.

The winner of Wednesday's game will move on to face the winner of the San Francisco-LSU game.

Fourth-year head coach Russell Turner's UCI squad is 23-11 overall and won the Big West Conference regular-season title with a 13-3 mark. 

The 23 wins tie the mark for the second-most wins in Anteater single-season history.  UCI was upset by eventual tournament champion Cal Poly, 61-58, in the Big West Tournament semifinals.

Freshman guard Luke Nelson leads the 'Eaters in scoring at 11.7 points per game and also tops the team with 71 threes and 37 steals.  He was named Big West Freshman of the Year and also to the All-Big West second team.

Senior guard Chris McNealy, an All-Big West first-team selection, is averaging 11.1 points.

Junior forward Will Davis II, who is also averaging 11.1 points, leads UCI in rebounding at 6.3 boards per game.  He was named to the Big West All-Tournament team after averaging 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the Anteaters' two games.  Davis, who was 15 of 24 from the field in the tourney, was a Big West honorable mention pick this season.

Sophomore guard Alex Young is averaging 8.8 points and leads the team with 156 assists, giving him 300 in just two seasons.  He also was named to the All-Big West honorable mention team.

Mamadou Ndiaye, UCI's 7-6 freshman center, is averaging 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and he has a school and conference-record 99 blocked shots this season.  Ndiaye earned the Big West's Best Defensive Player award and was an All-Big West honorable mention selection.

SMU, 23-9 overall, is a No. 1 seed in the NIT and is coached by the legendary Larry Brown in his second season with the Mustangs.  SMU was 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference and was upset by Houston, 68-64, in the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament.

The Mustangs are 15-1 at home this season, including 9-1 at renovated Moody Coliseum.

Sophomore guard Nic Moore leads SMU in scoring at 13.7 points per game and also in assists at 4.8 per contest.

Sophomore forward Markus Kennedy is averaging 12.1 points and leads the Mustangs in rebounding with a 6.9 average.

SMU is shooting 48.7 percent from the field and is limiting the opposition to 62.3 points per game.

This is UCI's second consecutive trip to the postseason (CIT last year) and the Anteaters' fifth appearance in the NIT (the first in 12 years).

UCI previously competed in the NIT in 1982, 1986, 2001 and 2002.

UCI in the NIT:

1982
Won @ San Diego State, 70-69
Lost @ Oklahoma, 80-77

1986
Won @ UCLA, 80-74
Lost @ BYU, 93-80

2001
Lost @ Tulsa, 75-71

2002
Lost @ BYU, 78-55

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