LA Tech Hosts Central Michigan in First Round of NIT

March 16, 2015

Game 34 - NIT First Round Get Acrobat Reader

RUSTON - A week and a half ago, Louisiana Tech seniors Raheem Appleby, Michale Kyser and Kenneth Smith had what was a perfect ending to their home careers inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

On Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., the winningest class in Bulldog history will get to reopen that book and attempt to add another chapter as they participate in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament when they take on Central Michigan.

As many milestones as the trio and head coach Michael White have reached, they can actually reach another because they have the opportunity in front of their home crowd to win their 100th game which will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with Trey Bender and Kyle Macy calling the action.

"I hope to see some rejuvenating from our guys, especially mentally," White said after not making the NCAA Tournament. "We ended our home court season in the TAC perfectly. Now it is a matter of making sure we end it again. Making sure we do not incorrectly rewrite the story book that these three seniors made. That is going to be the message to our guys, especially our newcomers.

"These three seniors have prided themselves on finishing strong and that will be my challenge to them. We still have a chance to finish strong and finish the right way. Not having any regrets, finishing your legacy the right way."

LA Tech (25-8) is coming off an emotional loss in overtime in the Conference USA tournament semifinals to UAB which ended its quest for the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs trailed by as much as 16 points in the second half before recording a furious rally. They held the Blazers scoreless for the last five minutes of the game to tie it up and send it into OT, but fell 72-62 to the host team.

Now the `Dogs, led by C-USA Player of the Year and All-Tournament team member Speedy Smith, will have to prepare themselves mentally and physically to try to extend the team's 29-game home winning streak which ranks fourth in the country.

The opponent trying to end that streak is Central Michigan (23-8) who received an automatic bid into the NIT after winning the regular season Mid-American Conference title. The Chippewas ended up falling in the title game, 89-84, to Buffalo on Saturday.

CMU will be making just their second ever appearance in the NIT, the last time being in 1979.

"It is a little bit scary in terms of visualizing how we will defend them," White said. "They are the best offensive team we will have played this year. They can shoot it from a bunch of different spots. And they have arguably two of the best shooters we have seen all year. They can really fill it up and they have a point guard who is big, strong and physical and scored 42 in a game this year."

The Chippewas boast a high-scoring offense that ranks third in the country in three-point field goals made (10.2), 15th in scoring offense (78.2) and 39th in field goal percentage (46.8).

They are coached by the MAC Coach of the Year Keon Lewis and are led on the floor by first team All-MAC selection Chris Fowler who averages a team-high 16 points and 6.1 assists per game.

This will only be the second ever meeting on the hardwood for LA Tech and CMU. The two teams playing in Ruston back on Jan. 4, 1992 with the Bulldogs coming out on top, 104-85.

LA Tech Hall of Famer P.J. Brown ended up scoring a season-high 27 points while also pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs have a record of 11-1 against current members of the Mid-American Conference and are a perfect 4-0 at home against the MAC.

The Tech Ticket Office will be open Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Fans are encouraged to purchase their game tickets online for convenience and ease at LATechSports.com.

Reserved seating will be located in the red section of the TAC while general admission will be located in the blue. All reserved seats will be $15 while general admission will be $10. The first 1,000 Louisiana Tech students with a current ID can obtain one free ticket from the Tech Ticket Office while supplies last.

Fans can access live audio of the game via the internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com. The contest can be heard live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) and KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield). The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz and Jack Thigpen will call the action.

Twitter users can receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.

 

 

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