LA Tech and Texas A&M Square Off in 2nd Round NIT Matchup
March 22, 2015
RUSTON - For a second straight year, Louisiana Tech will take on an SEC opponent on the road in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Bulldogs will be trying to replicate last year's performance which resulted in a victory when they face Texas A&M on Monday night at 6 p.m. inside Reed Arena.
The contest will be televised on ESPN with Tom Hart and Darrin Horn calling the action.
LA Tech (26-8) was able to advance in the NIT by defeating Central Michigan, 89-79, in what was win No. 100 for Michael White who became just the ninth active head coach to reach 100 in his first four years.
It also marked the third straight season the `Dogs have won a postseason game, a first since 1984-86.
"First of all, we have good players," White said about the postseason accomplishment. "Second of all, I think there has been a little bit of disappointment heading into the NIT over these last three years where we were so close to being in that other tournament.
"With the quick turn and with the circumstances, the character of our locker room and the leadership of the guys within that locker room have been good enough to stay hungry and to play with some edge and show people that we are pretty good. We are going to continue to appreciate the game and our opportunities and be competitive."
The Bulldogs shot a season-best 57 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc and got a season-high 43 points from the bench.
Freshman sharp-shooter Jacobi Boykins was one of those key bench players, scoring a career-high 18 points while going a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown.
The next opponent Texas A&M (21-11) is coming off an 81-64 victory versus Montana in the opening round. The Aggies also shot the ball extremely well with a 58 percent clip while scoring 44 of their points in the paint to hold off a Grizzlies team who at time overcame an 18-point deficit in the second stanza.
The Aggies had lost their three prior games, including a loss to Auburn in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Their most notable game though came in a double overtime loss to No. 1 ranked Kentucky back in January, the closest anyone has come to knocking off the unbeaten Wildcats.
"We will come out swinging for sure," White said. "We are a program that struggles to get high major opportunities, especially good ones, on the schedule and we have failed miserably at getting any of them to come to Ruston. Fortunately for the NIT, it is another opportunity against a high-level opponent that we are paired up with. Unfortunately, it is on the road. We will do the best we can with the opportunity.
"Our guys will play very hard and be very excited and we will have to. On top of being very excited, we will have to play really well because Texas A&M is a team that arguably should have been in the NCAA Tournament. They are really good. They are terrific defensively. They are very talented. They are big, strong and physical and it will be a tough test for us."
They had two representatives on the All-SEC team - Danuel House made first team while Jalen Jones was a third team selection. Jones led the Aggies in scoring against Montana, pouring in a game-high 25 points.
The last meeting between the two teams came in the 2012-13 season opener in College Station. Raheem Appleby led all players with 20 points, but Texas A&M pulled away from LA Tech for the 71-59 victory.
Three of the Bulldog victories versus the SEC have come in the NIT, including last year's 79-71 defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs. LA Tech also defeated Vanderbilt in the 2002 NIT and Florida in the 1986 NIT Final Four consolation.
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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