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Mar 25, 2024 7:07 pm

No. 1 Indiana State duels No. 2 Cincinnati for NIT semifinal berth

indiana state

Two teams with rich basketball history meet Tuesday night when Indiana State hosts Cincinnati in the NIT quarterfinals in Terre Haute, Ind.

The winner advances to the NIT semifinals April 2 at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis.

Indiana State is a current member of the Missouri Valley Conference; Cincinnati won its two national championships in 1961 and ’62 while in that conference.

The Sycamores (30-6), the top seed in the Upper Right Region, beat Minnesota 76-64 in the second round Sunday afternoon.

Ryan Conwell led Indiana State with his sharp shooting, sinking 6 of 8 attempts from beyond the arc to finish with 23 points and lead four Sycamores in double digits.

Jayson Kent added a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Julian Larry also had 16 points, helping Indiana State reach 30 wins for the first time since Larry Bird led the Sycamores to a 33-1 mark and the 1979 NCAA Tournament title game.

“I thought we had March-level toughness and March-level concentration and I was really proud of our guys for how they competed,” Indiana State coach Josh Schertz said.

“We get to play again and that’s the best part of the whole deal. We love practicing and we love competing. We love playing with each other, and now we get a chance to do it again here on Tuesday.”

No. 2 seed Cincinnati (22-14) also advanced to the quarterfinals with a double-digit win at home, taking care of Bradley 74-57 Saturday afternoon.

“It’s great to be playing for something in late March,” Cincinnati coach Wes Miller said. “That’s the standard we’re trying to set here. Everybody knows we’d rather be playing in the NCAA Tournament. We are playing for a championship.”

Making his first career start, freshman Jizzle James led the Bearcats with a career-high 25 points while Dan Skillings Jr. had 17 of his 20 points in the second half to help the Bearcats pull away.

“It was just doing my job. I knew I had to play more,” James said. “I wanted to get my guys in position to be at their best in creating for each other.”

John Newman III surpassed the 1,000-point milestone with a free-throw late in the first half.

“It was a special moment for me,” Newman said. “I have had a long career and I know it is not often that people reach 1,000 points, and I am blessed to reach that milestone.”

–Field Level Media

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