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Mar 23, 2024 5:02 pm

Indiana St. hosts Minnesota for spot in NIT quarters

Indiana State sycamores

No. 1 seed Indiana State will look to advance to the NIT quarterfinals when it tips off against Minnesota on Sunday afternoon in Terre Haute, Ind.

Indiana State (29-6) is coming off a 101-92 win over SMU on its home court in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday night. The Sycamores’ 29 wins represents the second-most in program history, trailing only the 1978-79 squad with 33 wins.

Jayson Kent scored a career-high 35 points on 11-for-12 shooting to lead Indiana State in the opening round. Ryan Conwell scored 25 points, Xavier Bledson scored 14, and Robbie Avila chipped in 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Indiana State coach Josh Schertz said his players cared about playing well in the NIT, adding they were fortunate to earn another game in front of their home crowd.

“We had some of that last year, but this year has been a whole different level,” Schertz said about the fan support in the NIT opener. “This is the epicenter of basketball, Indiana, and Terre Haute is about as good as it gets in terms of people that love it and support it. They’re passionate about Indiana State basketball.

“That connection doesn’t exist in a lot of places. We all — every player, every coach — realizes how lucky we are to be a part of that.”

The Sycamores will go up against Minnesota (19-14), which is coming off a 73-72 win over Butler in the first round. Dawson Garcia led the Golden Gophers with 25 points, and Elijah Hawkins notched a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 15 assists.

Gophers coach Ben Johnson said the NIT victory marked another step forward for a program that has made significant progress from last season.

“It’s great to get a win on the road against a team that was hungry, just like we were,” Johnson said. “I thought our guys did a great job of making necessary plays when we needed to make them.”

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Minnesota and Indiana State and the first between the programs since 2011. The Golden Gophers lead the series 3-1.

“Minnesota is very good,” Schertz said. “I know our fans will be ready, and I have no doubt our players will be equally as ready. It should be an unbelievable environment here.”

–Field Level Media

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