March 24, 2013
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss did battle on the hardwood during the regular season. Now they will face off in the postseason as the No. 5 seed Bulldogs travel to face the No. 1 seed Golden Eagles in the second round of the NIT on Monday, March 25 at 9 p.m. CT inside Reed Green Coliseum.
After LA Tech (27-6, 16-2 WAC) had a disappointing end to its WAC Tournament hopes by losing to UTSA in the quarterfinals, the team's third straight loss, the Bulldogs regained its confidence in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament by winning at Florida State 71-66.
It was only the second win ever over a current ACC school and the program's first NIT victory since 2002.
After shooting only 26 percent from the field in the first half, the `Dogs scorched the nets over the final 20 minutes for 66 percent (19-29) led by sophomore guard Raheem Appleby who had a game-high 27 points, the second most scored by any player in the first round.
Southern Miss (26-9, 12-4 CUSA) advanced to the second round of the NIT after outlasting the No. 8 seed Charleston Southern 78-71, the program's first postseason win since 1988.
Southern Miss earned an at-large bid in this year's NIT, its ninth appearance in the tournament and the first since 2001.
LA Tech bested the future conference rival earlier this season in a hard-fought 65-55 victory in Ruston. Guard Kenyon McNeail came off the bench to score a team high 18 points and the Bulldog defense forced 23 turnovers.
"The game against Southern Miss seems like it was last season it was so long ago," said head coach Michael White. "We are a different team than we were then. They're a different team.
The two squads had the highest RPI's of any of the 32 teams selected into the NIT, the Golden Eagles with an RPI of 31 and the Bulldogs with an RPI of 54.
This will be the 72nd time in their history that the two teams will square off, making it the oldest rivalry outside the state of Louisiana for LA Tech.
The Alumni Association and LTAC will be hosting a pregame party at Mugshots Grill and Bar from 5:30-7:30 for those travelling to Hattiesburg.
Meanwhile in Ruston the Dawg House will host a watch party of the NIT Second Round game. The Dawg House is the official away game watch party location for Louisiana Tech's televised games.
The contest will be televised live on ESPNU and broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) and KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill) with the pregame show beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play while Jack Thigpen will provide analysis.
Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.
Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.