NIT 2012: Stanford And Minnesota Set To Battle For Tournament Championship

Stanford and Minnesota will take to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night for a shot at the NIT Championship

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NIT 2012, UMass Vs. Stanford Final Score: Stanford Too Much For UMass in 74-64 Win

All NIT long UMass had been able to come up with a timely run to get back into games and break opponent's backs. Tuesday night that run came too early and fell short, as (5) UMass (25-12) finally saw their NIT run and their season come to an end against (3) Stanford (25-11).

The Cardinal overcame a poor shooting night and foul trouble behind four players in double digits with a 74-64 victory at Madison Square Garden. It was the second time the two teams had met at MSG, with Stanford winning 73-71 in the 1991 NIT Semifinals.

Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams led the Minutemen with 19 points and three assists but he and his teammates struggled shooting the ball all night long. Williams connected on 7-of-18 shots, with a large portion of his made shots and points coming after the game had been decided. Junior guard Freddie Riley was the only other UMass player in double figures with 10 points, including two of the Minutemen's five 3-pointers.

Sean Carter, the lone UMass senior who was a member of the rotation, finished his career with six points and a team-high eight rebounds. Forwards Raphiael Putney (eight rebounds) and Terrell Vinson (six rebounds) both chipped in with eight points apiece but struggled with foul trouble throughout the night.

Sophomore guard Anthony Brown led the Minutemen with 18 points on the night, including 13 in the second half. Aaron Bright (13 points) and Chasson Randle (12 points) joined Brown in double-figures and senior forward Josh Owens posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

While neither squad shot the ball particularly well, UMass connected on 33.8 percent of their shots and Stanford hit 36.9 percent, Stanford held a big advantage on the glass. The Cardinal held a 12-rebound margin (46-34) and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds. Stanford also held a big edge from the free throw line, as they knocked down 70 percent (21-of-30) if their shots, while UMass managed just 59.1 percent (13-of-22).

Early on it looked like Stanford would cruise against UMass when they grabbed a 12-point lead (26-14) at the 11:39 mark of the first half behind a 10-0 run. The Minutemen responded though in their regular fashion, with a 13-4 run over the next minutes, to make the halftime deficit a reasonable 36-33 score.

The second half was an ugly affair for the first 12 minutes, as both team's saw their shooting percentage plummet behind a steady stream of missed shots. Then things got interesting. Riley knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:05 to give UMass a 50-49 lead, just their second lead of the game. But Brown would follow a 3-pointer of his own, to give Stanford the lead right back. The back-to-back threes were the first 3-pointers of the second half for both teams.

Williams would respond with an acrobatic layup in traffic to tie it at 52, but Stanford would go on a 11-3 run to open up the game and UMass failed to have an answer.

UMass' 25 wins this season means they will go down tied for fifth all-time in Minutemen history for single season victories.

Stanford will play the winner of (1) Washington and (6) Minnesota Thursday night in the NIT Championship Game.


NIT 2012, UMass Vs. Stanford Halftime Score: Stanford Leads Minutemen 36-33

Midway through the first half Stanford looked like they were going to run away from UMass and right into the National Invitational Tournament Championship Game. The Cardinal grabbed a 26-14 lead at the 11:39 mark behind a 10-0 run and the Minutemen looked incapable of slowing down Stanford's big men inside. Then UMass responded with the counterpunch.

Stanford leads UMass 36-33 at halftime at Madison Square Garden behind 11 points and five rebounds from senior forward Josh Owens.

UMass overcame a slow start to get right back into the game behind an 11-1 run of their own and some big 3-pointers. Redshirt sophomore Raphiael Putney leads the Minutemen with eight points and two assists and the big men knocked down two key threes to get UMass back into the game. Point guard Chaz Williams added seven points and an assist but picked up his third foul late in the first half on a charge.

Stanford has five players with five points or more, with sophomore forward Josh Huestis as the second leading scorer with six points and a team-high six rebounds off the bench.

Neither team shot well in the first half, with UMass knocking down 12-of-33 (36.4 percent) of their shots and Stanford hitting 33.3 percent of their shots (12-of-36). The battle of the paint has been intriguing, with Stanford owning a 21-17 rebounding advantage, but UMass holding a 7-1 advantage in blocks.

UMass had a chance to tie the game at the half, when Javorn Farrell stole an inbounds pass with less than a second to go but his three fell off the mark. Tuesday's winner will play the winner of (1) Washington and (6) Minnesota.


NIT 2012 Semifinals, (5) UMass Vs. (3) Stanford: Minutemen Look To Down The Cardinal At Madison Square Garden

Chaz Williams and the Minutemen have seen and achieved a lot this season. They traveled to the Bahamas, swept their Massachusetts rivals, knocked off a ranked Temple squad to make it to the Atlantic 10 Semifinals for the first time since 2001, knocked off three higher seeds in the National Invitation Tournament and Tuesday they'll look to notch one more accomplishment when they face Standford at the Mecca Of College Basketball.

Fifth-seeded UMass (25-11) and the (3) Cardinal (24-11) will meet in the NIT semifinals for the second time when the two teams tip off Tuesday night at 7 p.m. EDT at Madison Square Garden, with a spot in Thursday's NIT Championship Game on the line. ESPN2 will broadcast the game with Mike Patrick, Fran Fraschilla and Bill Raferty on the call. An audio broadcast of the game will also be available nationally on Westwood One Radio with Bob Papa and former UMass head coach Steve Lappas providing commentary.

The winner of Tuesday's game will play either PAC-12 regular season champion (1) Washington or Tubby Smith's (6) Minnesota squad. That game will be played at 9 p.m. directly after the UMass-Stanford game.

It has been a fantastic run for the Minutemen who have beaten an SEC team (Mississippi State), a Big East team (Seton Hall) and the Colonial Athletic Association Regular Season Champion (Drexel) all on the road.

The Minutemen started with a double-overtime thriller in Mississippi, where the Minutemen gave up a double-digit second-half lead, only to knock off the (4) Bulldogs off in the second overtime 101-96. Less than a week later, UMass traveled to New Jersey where they outlasted (1) Seton Hall 77-67 behind a few big three-pointers down the stretch. UMass capped off their run through their side of the bracket with a thrilling comeback of their own. After trailing by 17 early in the second half against (3) Drexel, the Minutemen handed the Dragons their first home loss of the season behind 14 second-half points by junior Terrell Vinson.

On the other side, the (3) Cardinal have had a slightly easier trip to Madison Square Garden, as they haven't had to leave home. Stanford opened with a 76-65 win over Cleveland State, before narrowly defeating (7) Illinois State by a 92-88 margin in overtime. In that game, Stanford overcame an 11-point deficit behind 29 points from sophomore Aaron Bright and freshmen guard Chasson Randle put the Cardinal ahead for good with a three-pointer with a minute to play. Stanford's quarterfinal matchup was much easier, as the Cardinal obliterated (5) Nevada by an 84-56 score.

Twenty-one years ago these two programs met in the NIT Semifinals, with Stanford earning a 73-71 victory over the Minutemen. But the Minutemen made the most of their next appearance in the NIT Semifinals, defeating defending national champion Florida five years ago, only to lose to Ohio State in the Championship Game.

Stanford is an extremely deep team with 11 players having made 24 or more appearances. Randle (13.9 ppg) and Bright (11.6 ppg) are two of the team's leading scorers as the pair of underclassmen have both excelled behind the three-point line shooting over 43 percent. While Randle fills up the stat sheet with steals and rebounds, Bright has been inserted as the starting point guard as a freshmen and achieved a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ration and 3.6 assists per game.

Senior forward Josh Owens is the team's second leading scorer (11.7 ppg) and leading rebounder at 5.7 rebounds per game. Owens also leads the team in field-goal percentage (57.6 percent) and steals (41).

While Stanford is above-average offensively (71.7 ppg) and on the glass (+4.4 rebounding margin), the Cardinals are 79th in the nation in scoring defense, as they allow just 63.5 points per game. UMass is the opposite, with a top-20 offense and a defense that allows 72.4 points per game.

The game could come down to which team can take better care of the ball, with two young point guards facing off on a huge stage. UMass has turned the ball over 14 times a game this season but has forced opponents into almost 17 giveaways a game. On the flip side, Stanford has turned the ball over just 13 times per game, while forcing 14 turnovers a contest. If the Minutemen can bother the Cardinal ball handlers and create some easy baskets, they may be able to push the game into the 70s or 80s and force Stanford to play out of their element.


NIT Tournament 2012, UMass Vs. Stanford: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The No. 5-seeded UMass Minutemen men's basketball team continues its NIT 2012 run Tuesday, as they face No. 3 Stanford Cardinal in a semifinal contest at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The winner of the contest advance to player either No. 1 Washington Huskies or No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NIT final on Thursday.

The Minutemen (25-11) are making their first appearance in the NIT Final Four since 2008, when they made the Championship Game. This will be the programs third NIT Final Four, as in '91 UMass played Stanford (24-11) in the semifinals and lost 73-71.

Location: New York, NY, Madison Square Garden

Game Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV Schedule: ESPN2/ESPN3

Announcers: Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (color commentary) & Bill Raftery (color)

Radio Stream: KIX 100.9 FM

Betting Odds: Stanford is 2 1/2-point favorites.

For more on the NIT Tournament, be sure to check out our NIT stream and SB Nation Boston for all your needs.


2012 NIT Tournament Schedule And Bracket: UMass' 2011-12 Season Will End At MSG

The men's basketball NIT tips off its Final Four on Tuesday, as the No. 5 UMass Minutemen and No. 3 Stanford Cardinal face off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The winner advances to play either No. 1 Washington Huskies or No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers, which play in the nightcap at approximately 9 p.m. on ESPN2.

It has been a long journey for each of these four programs, especially for UMass, which had to play on the road against Mississippi St. Bulldogs in the first round, at Seton Hall in the second and at Drexel in the third. The Minutemen's march to the NIT title ends in New York City and Madison Square Garden, where if they win Tuesday they will play in the Championship Game at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Here's Tuesday's schedule of Final Four games:

No. 5 UMAss vs. No. 3 Stanford, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

No. 1 Washington vs. No. 6 Minnesota, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2

For more on the NIT, be sure to check out our NCAA basketball hub. A full bracket is also right here. For more on the NIT, please check out SB Nation Boston for all your needs.


NIT Tournament 2012, UMass Vs. Drexel Final Score: Minutemen Rally From 17-point Deficit, Down Bruiser Flint And Drexel

Things looked grim after 20 minutes at the Daskalakis Center in Philadelphia. UMass not only found themselves trailing by 10 but the (5) Minutemen couldn't find an answer to the (3) Drexel frontcourt and were playing a Dragons team that was 15-0 at home this season.

But with their season on the line against one of the hottest teams in the country, UMass pulled off their third road victory in a week to keep their magical season alive. UMass (25-11) rallied from a 17-point deficit with 16:47 to play to end the Dragons (29-7) season and to advance to Madison Square Garden and the NIT Semifinals for the first time since 2008.

Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams (20 points) and junior forward Terrell Vinson (18 points) keyed the Minutemen's rally, as UMass had all the answers in the second half. Williams poured in 12 points in the second half to go along with his four rebounds, four assists and two steals for the game. Vinson was even better, with 14 of his 18 points in the second half, with 12 coming during the run when UMass finally took the lead away from Drexel.

Sophomore guard Jesse Morgan added 12 points and knocked down two of the team's four second half 3-pointers that helped UMass overcome the Dragons. The Minutemen shot just under 75 percent in the second half, and 58.8 percent (30-of-51) for the game, to help Derek Kellogg knock off his mentor, and former UMass head coach, Bruiser Flint.

Point guard Franz Massenat did his best to keep up with Williams on the stat sheet with 16 points and nine assists, but the 80 percent free throw shooter hit just 6-of-12 attempts from the line. Forwards Dartaye Ruffin (17 points) and Samme Givens (12 points) combined for 29 points but 27 came in the first half to help Drexel build a 41-31 halftime advantage. Givens the team's lone senior, finished with 10 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, despite constant foul trouble.

Drexel managed to control the game through the first 25 minutes behind their complete dominance inside. The Dragons scored 34 of their 41 first-half points in the paint and owned a 36-15 advantage on the glass for the game. Yet UMass was able to change the flow of the game behind their outside shooting and defensive pressure.

In the second half, UMass shot 4-of-8 from behind the arc and forced nine Drexel turnovers, after going 0-of-2 and only turning the Dragons over five times in the first half.

UMass will travel to Madison Square Garden next Tuesday for a matchup against the winner of tomorrow's quarterfinal game between to (3) Stanford and (5) Nevada. Overall, UMass is 1-1 in NIT Semifinal games with a win against the defending national champions Florida in 2008.


NIT Tournament 2012, UMass Vs. Drexel Halftime Score: Dragons Lead UMass 41-31

Tuesday night's showdown was supposed to be about Bruiser Flint facing his former team and his mentee, when the UMass Minutemen came to town for an NIT Quarterfinal showdown. Massachusetts native Dartaye Ruffin made sure all the attention was on him though after an inspired showing.

The Stoughton native poured in 17 points to lead all players, as Drexel leads UMass 41-31 heading into the break. Ruffin, a sophomore forward, connected on 8-of-9 field goal attempts and 1-of-2 free throws to finish a point shy of his season-high.

Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams led the Minutemen with 10 points, two rebounds and one assist. Backcourt mate Jesse Morgan added five points for a UMass side that trailed for the majority of the half because of struggles in the paint.

Senior forward Samme Givens added 10 points for the Dragons who held an 18-9 advantage on the boards, including nine offensive rebounds. Point guard Franz Massenat added six points and five assists for the Dragons who are 15-0 this season when playing at home.

While both teams shot the ball extremely well, Drexel (51.5 percent) and UMass (48.1 percent), the Dragons managed to force three more turnovers (eight to five) and used a 9-0 run to being the game to knock UMass off their game.

Neither team has hit a 3-point attempt thus far, with Drexel missing six attempts and UMass off target on two tries.


NIT Tournament 2012, UMass Vs. Drexel: Minutemen Face Former Coach Bruiser Flint With NIT Semis Spot On The Line

Assistant coach versus former player, head coach versus graduate-assistant coach, mentor versus mentee: all three descriptions fit the relationship between former UMass head coach and current Drexel bench boss Bruiser Flint and UMass head coach Derek Kellogg. On Tuesday, the two men will go head to head for the first time with their team's season's on the line.

Eleven years after leaving Amherst, Flint will face his former team and friend, when the (3) Drexel Dragons (29-6) host (5) UMass (24-11) Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. with a spot in the NIT semifinals and a trip to Madison Square Garden at stake. (TV: ESPN / Radio: UMass Sports Network)

After several down years with their respective schools, both coaches are having their best seasons to date, as they lead their teams into the NIT Elite Eight. While Drexel narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament, the Dragons have won 26 games, the most ever in Flint's 16 years of coaching, and made it farther than any other Drexel team under Flint. On the other side, UMass is making their first postseason appearance under Kellogg in his four years and this year's roster is already tied for sixth on the all-time program list for wins.

UMass will be making their third trip to the NIT Quarterfinals, with wins in both prior appearances. Just five years ago, the Minutemen went all the way to the NIT Championship Game before falling to Ohio State. During that run, UMass overcame a 22-point deficit with 14:34 remaining to defeat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in the NIT Quarterfinals to advance to the NIT Final Four.

The Minutemen already own two upsets in the first two rounds, with road wins over (4) Mississippi State and (1) Seton Hall. On Saturday, UMass used back-to-back three-pointers from Terrell Vinson and Chaz Williams to put away Seton Hall in a 77-67 thriller.

Williams finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists Saturday to move closer to two milestones. The redshirt sophomore point guard finished in double-digits for the 33rd time this season, and 49th time in his career in just 55 games. More impressively, Williams's 224 assists this season places him 14 assists shy of second-place all-time in a single season for a Minuteman.

While Williams is the ringleader and has received the spotlight all season, the Minutemen boast a talented roster that can run with anyone, or run other teams off the floor. Center Sean Carter is the lone UMass senior, and he's posted back-to-back doubles in the postseason after averaging 8.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during the season. Sophomores Jesse Morgan and Raphiael Putney have become the second- and third-leading scorers at over 10 points per game, and junior Terrell Vinson has been the glue on both ends of the floor that has kept UMass afloat when other teams make big runs.

While UMass was a bit of a surprise in the Atlantic 10, Drexel was projected as the preseason favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association and lived up to that billing. The Dragons earned the number-one overall seed in the CAA Tournament after going 16-2 in league play, and Drexel easily advanced to the league's championship game. Unfortunately for the Dragons, they faced a familiar foe in VCU and saw their NCAA bubble break for the second year in a row at the hands of the Rams (59-56).

Drexel stayed perfect at the Daskalakis Center on Sunday when they downed (6) Northern Iowa 65-63 behind a game-high 28 points from senior forward Samme Givens. Despite holding an 18-point lead at one point, the Dragons had to withstand a Northern Iowa missed three-pointer at the buzzer to advance. With the win, Drexel moved to 15-0 at home this season, to go along with their 27-2 streak since early December.

The Dragons feature four players who are averaging double-figure points with sophomore guard Franz Massenat (13.7 ppg) and freshmen Damion Lee (12.2 ppg) leading the way. Massenat not only leads the team in scoring but also paces the team with 4.68 assists per game. Givens, who happens to be Drexel's lone senior, averages 11.6 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game.

Tuesday's matchup could come down to which team manages to dictate the tempo and pace of the contest. UMass is 15th in the nation in scoring offense at 77.5 points per game, while Drexel is fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 55.7 points per game. Either way, the winning coach will carry UMass ties and advance to Madison Square Garden and an NIT Semifinal contest next Tuesday. The opponent will be the winner of Wednesday's contest between Nevada and Stanford/Illinois State.


2012 NIT Schedule And Bracket: Elite 8 Finalized; Final Four Field Decided By Wednesday

The UMass Minutemen will have a shot at earning a trip to the NIT Final Four Tuesday, as they travel to Philadelphia, Pa. to take on the Drexel Dragons at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The winner advances to play either the Washington Huskies or Oregon Ducks, who will also play Tuesday night (9 p.m. on ESPN).

On Wednesday, the Final Four field will be finalized when Middle Tennessee takes on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7 p.m. on ESPN) and then Stanford Cardinal takes on Nevada Wolfpack (9 p.m. on ESPN2).

The NIT's Final Four will be played at Madison Square Garden, March 27-29. Here's a look at the remaining bracket and TV schedule:

Region 1
(1) Northwestern Wildcats 55, (1) Washington Huskies 76
(7) Iowa Hawkeyes 97, (3) Oregon Ducks 106

Final: Washington vs. Oregon, Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN

Region 2
(4) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 71, (1) Tennessee Volunteers 64
(6) Minnesota Golden Gophers 78, (2) Miami Hurricanes 60

Final: Middle Tennessee vs. Minnesota, Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2

Region 3
(4) UMass Minutemen 77, (1) Seton Hall Pirates 67
(7) Northern Iowa Panthers 63, (3) Drexel Dragons 65

Final: UMass vs. Drexel, Tuesday, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Region 4
(8) Bucknell Bison 67, (5) Nevada Wolfpack 75
(7) Illinois State Redbirds 88, (3) Stanford Cardinal 92 (OT)

Final: Nevada vs. Stanford, Wednesday, 9 p.m. on ESPN2

For more on the NIT Tournament, be sure to check out our NIT stream and SB Nation Boston for all your needs.


Seton Hall Vs. UMass Score Final Score: Minutemen Win, 77-67

The Massachusetts Minutemen defeated the Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, advancing to the third round of the 2012 NIT Tournament.

UMass has now won two games in the NIT Tournament as a five seed. They defeated four seed, Mississippi State, in the first round and the region's first seed, Seton Hall, in the second round. They await the winner of Drexel and Northern Iowa in the third round.

The Minutemen enjoyed a balanced scoring attack, with five players scoring at least nine points. Guard Chaz Williams led the team with 20 points, while adding seven rebounds and six assists to his overall statline. Big man Sean Carter recorded a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin scored a game-high 21 points.

For more NIT coverage, be sure to check out our constantly updated tourney stream and SB Nation Boston for all your needs. Get complete college basketball coverage at SB Nation's NCAA hoops hub.


NIT 2012, UMass Vs. Seton Hall: Minutemen Look To Knock Off Pirates, Extend Season

Four Atlantic 10 teams earned at-large berths to the National Invitation Tournament, but UMass finds themselves as the lone representative after the first set games. The sixth-seeded Minutemen outlasted (3) Mississippi State 101-96 in Starksville, Mississippi Tuesday, while (2) St. Joseph's and (3) LaSalle lost on their home floors and (2) Dayton fell at Iowa.

UMass (23-11) will look carry the Atlantic 10 standard to New Jersey Saturday when they play (1) Seton Hall (21-12) at the Walsh Gymnasium at 11 a.m. EDT. (TV: ESPN, Radio: UMass Sports Network)

This will be the fifth time the Minutemen and Seton Hall have played, with the two teams each winning twice. While Seton Hall claimed double-digit victories in 2009 and 2010, the Minutemen have won the only postseason game between the two teams, with an 86-85 victory in the 1977 NIT.

The Minutemen are coming off their highest scoring performance of the season, in a game which they looked like they would run away with in regulation. Chaz Williams and company led by 10 or more for for more than 20 minutes, before a 12-0 Mississippi State run, gave the Bulldogs a brief lead. The teams would go back and forth for the final five minutes of regulation, the first overtime and the first two minutes of the second extra frame, before UMass finally pulled away.

Williams led he Minutemen with 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while two big men finished with double-doubles. Senior Sean Carter poured in 20 minutes and 12 rebounds and sophomore Raphiael Putney chipped in with 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for the Minutemen.

Seton Hall is coming off a thrilling victory of their own, after they held off (8) Stony Brook 63-61 on Tuesday. Senior Jordan Theodore (21 points) and Herb Pope (20 points and nine rebounds) helped the Pirates snap an 11-game NIT losing streak. The Pirates struggled to shrug off the Seawolves in that one, as the America East Champions had a chance to win the game and a chance to tie it at the buzzer in the final seconds.

The pair of seniors are the unquestioned leaders of a Seton Hall team who were one of the last teams to fall off the bubble. Theodore leads the team with 16.1 points and 6.7 assists per game and also shoots an impressive 83.1 percent from the free throw line. His 6.7 assists is good for eight in the nation, two spots ahead of Williams.

Pope is a big body who can wreak havoc down low. He averages a double-double with 15.3 points and a team-high 10.3 rebounds which is good for 16th in the nation. Sophomore guard Fuquan Edwin is the final player to average double figures, as he chips in with 12.2 points per game, to go along with nation-high 100 steals in 33 games.

The winner of this game will play the winner of (3) Drexel and (7) Northern Iowa on Tuesday for a chance to go to the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden.


NIT 2012, UMass Vs. Mississippi State Final Score: Minutemen Bump Bulldogs, 101-96, In Double OT

It might not have been the NCAA Tournament but No. 5 seed UMass and No. 4 seed Mississippi State provided almost everything a postseason game should have: star power, momentum shifts and clutch shots. The game may have been missing some defense on both sides, thanks to the Bulldogs' struggles to come to the grips with their invitation to the NIT, rather than the Big Dance, but the team's more than made up for it in the end.

UMass (23-11) used their hustle on the boards and a huge game from Chaz Williams to end Mississippi State's season (21-12) on their home floor by a 101-96 score in double overtime. Williams poured in 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and added eight rebounds and a team-high six assists, despite being banged up. The speedy sophomore point guard extended his left leg awkwardly late in the second half when coming down with a rebound but stayed in the game to lead the Minutemen.

Senior center Sean Carter finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds to record one of two double-doubles on the night for the Minutemen. Raphiael Putney added 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, before fouling out late in regulation. The pair combined with junior forwards Terrell Vinson and Javorn Farrell to score 58 points and 33 rebounds, against a Mississippi State frontline that was headlined by All SEC First Team member Arnett Moultrie and volatile center Renardo Sidney.

Moultrie was unstoppable when driving to the lane, finishing with a game-high 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting. After knocking down two 3-pointers in the first half to go along with five dunks for 18 points in the first half, Moultrie dominated the Minutemen when in the lane, but also attempted and missed three 3-pointers.

Senior guard Dee Bost was able to spark the Bulldogs though, with 13 of his 20 points coming in the second half. Bost and sophomore guard Jalen Steele (17 points) knocked down eight of the team's 12 3-pointers, to help the Bulldogs even force the two overtime sessions.

UMass controlled the boards with a 51-38 advantage, including a 19-10 edge on the offensive boards and 6-2 lead in the final overtime frame. The Minutemen shot 39-of-90 (43.3 percent) from the field and and 32.1 percent (9-of-28) from behind the arc, while the Bulldogs connected on 42.7 percent (32-of-75) and 12-of-31 (38.7) from behind the 3-point line.

The 101 points were the most points UMass had scored all season long.

The Minutemen jumped out to an 8-0 edge and led for nearly the entire game, with Mississippi State only holding a lead for four of the 50 minutes. Derek Kellogg's squad held a double-digit lead for large stretches in the first half and second half before Mississippi State used a 17-4 run behind Bost to take a 63-62 lead with 7:57 to play. While the two team's would struggle to score over the next three minutes (three combined points), the quiet spell set up what turned out to be three consecutive best of five minute stretches.

After UMass went on a 5-1 run to grab a 70-66 lead with 3:17 to play in regulations, Moultrie scored six points over the next three minutes to tie the game at 72 with :41 seconds to play. The Minutemen thought they had a winner with under five seconds to play when Carter put back a Williams missed layup, but the referees correctly whistled the Minutemen for a shot clock violation, as the Williams layup just missed the rim on it's way down. Bost would get a final look, but his running layin was off the mark.

Mississippi State looked like they might run away in the opening possessions of the first overtime but their suspect defense kept UMass alive. Rodney Hood and Stelle connected on consecutive threes for the Bulldogs to give them a 78-72 lead but Farrell and sophomore guard Jesse Morgan added two of their own for the Minutemen to tie the game at 80. Both teams connected on a flurry of free throws, with the Minutemen coming away with a 90-87 lead with 35 seconds to play.

But Steele had another answer. The sophomore drained a long three off a screen to tie the game at 90 and Williams' game-winner fell off the front rim, to send the game to a second extra session.

Williams and Carter finally knocked the Bulldogs off with seven quick points in the final overtime to give UMass a 97-92 lead with three minutes left. Mississippi State would cut it to a single possession twice, but a Vinson tipin was more than enough.

UMass will travel to New Jersey to take on top-seeded Seton Hall, after the Pirates held off Stony Brook 63-61. The date and time of the game are still to be announced.

For more 2012 National Invitation Tournament coverage, follow along with our stream.


NIT 2012: UMass Vs. Mississippi State Halftime Update: Minutemen Jump All Over Bulldogs 41-31

UMass has struggled on the road all season but heart and energy have never been a problem for Derek Kellogg's young squad. After 20 minutes in Starkville, the (5) Minutemen have jumped all over (4) Mississippi State 41-31 using their pressure defense and hustle to overcome a Bulldogs team that faded down the stretch during the regular season.

Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams paced the Minutemen attack with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and knocked down one of the team's three 3-pointers. Junior forwards Terrell Vinson and Javorn Farrell chipped in with seven points apiece and have dominated down low as UMass has outscored their hosts 24-14 through 20 minutes.

The Bulldogs have been extremely one-dimensional, with junior forward Arnett Moultrie pouring in 18 of the team's 31 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Moultrie hit two 3-pointers in the first half, after connecting on just six threes all year long. Senior guard Dee Bost managed to add seven points, despite dealing with two fouls for much of the half.

UMass got out to an 8-0 start and never looked back, as the Minutemen have led the entire way thus far. After the Bulldogs chipped the lead down to four, UMass extended the lead to 13 late in the half, before an and-one layup by Moultrie.


NIT 2012, Mississippi State Vs. UMass: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The UMass Minutemen men's basketball program will begin their march to Madison Square Garden and the National Invitation Tournament's Final Four Tuesday, as they face the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum (7 p.m. on ESPN2).

The Minutemen (22-11) will be entering their 11th NIT appearance as a No. 5 seed, while the Bulldogs are a No. 4 seed. The winner of this matchup advance to the second round to face either top-seeded Seton Hall Pirates or No. 8 Stony Brooke Seawolves in the Sweet 16.

In 2008, the Minutemen made it all the way to the NIT Final Four and the Championship Game. This will be the first time in program history that UMass will play Mississippi State.

Here's the UMass vs. Mississippi State game time, TV Schedule and betting odds (For a complete NIT bracket, click here.):

Game Time: 7 p.m. ET

Location: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.

Television: ESPN2 (Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes)

Radio stream: 100.9 FM

Betting Odds: Miss. St. is a 6 1/2-point favorite

For more 2012 National Invitation Tournament coverage, follow along with our stream.


NIT 2012: UMass Vs. Mississippi State: Minutemen Look To Build Off Late Season Success

After falling just short Saturday against St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 semifinals, (5) UMass (22-11) will make their 19th postseason appearance in program history when they travel to Starkville to take on (4) Mississippi State (21-11) Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. (TV: ESPN2, Radio: 1510 AM WWZN)

The at-large bid to the NIT marks the program's first postseason trip under fourth year head coach Derek Kellogg. Five March's ago, Travis Ford led the Minutemen all the way to Madison Square Garden and the NIT Championship Game, before falling to Ohio State 92-85. Two weeks later, Ford left Amherst to become the head coach of Oklahoma State.

The run marked the second year in a row UMass made the NIT and the first time in school history that the Minutemen had won an NIT game in back-to-back seasons.

Kellogg was finally able to move off the hot seat and potentially into the long list of successful young coaches that have led the Minutemen, with a 22-11 season this year. After winning just 12 games in each of his first two seasons, Kellogg led the Minutemen to a .500 record last year and finally turned the corner this season with the help of a new system and star. The Minutemen ditched their patented dribble-drive system and focused on constant defensive pressure and up-tempo offense behind all league point guard Chaz Williams.

Williams has been the star for the Minutemen all season, as the Hofstra transfer led the Minutemen in over a half dozen categories. In his first season in Amherst, the sophomore has averaged 16.5 ppg, 6.5 apg and 2.3 spg, all while playing almost 34 minutes and starting 32 of 33 games.

The pair will lead UMass against a Mississippi State team that looked destined for a trip to the NCAA Tournament for much of the season. After starting the season 19-5 with wins over Arizona, Alabama and on the road against Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs dropped six of their final eight games. Thursday Mississippi State fell 71-61 to Georgia in the First Round of the SEC Tournament.

A pair of All League players have led Stansbury's squad all season, as junior forward Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost have been the top two scorers and playmakers. Moultrie, a UTEP transfer, has averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds while shooting 55.1 percent from the field. Bost has been even better. The point guard has averaged 15.6 points and 5.3 assists per game, while carrying an assist-to-turnover ratio of almost 2-to-1. He also leads the team in made 3-point field goals and free throws and is best known for his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.

The key player for the Bulldogs and potentially to Tuesday's matchup is the volatile Renardo Sidney. After sitting out his freshmen season due to a NCAA suspension, Sidney averaged nearly 15 points and eight games as a sophomore and has averaged 9.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season.

The winner of Tuesday's matchup will take on the winner of Tuesday's night game between (1) Seton Hall and (8) Stony Brook between March 15 and March 19.


2012 NIT Schedule And Bracket: Round 1 Game Times, TV Schedule

The National Invitational Tournament tips off Tuesday, as the UMass Minutemen take on the Mississippi St. Bulldogs at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The winner of UMass and Mississippi State will advance to face either top-seeded Seton Hall Pirates or the Stony Brooke Seawolves in the second round.

Officially, half of the 32-team field will play games on Tuesday night, as the road to the Final Four in Madison Square Garden begins. Here's a look at Tuesday's game times and TV schedule. (For a complete NIT bracket, click here.):

(No. 1-seed) Washington Huskies vs. (8) Texas-Arlington Mavericks

  • 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU

(4) Northwestern Wildcats vs. (5) Akron Zips

  • 9 p.m. on ESPN2

(3) Oregon Ducks vs. (6) LSU Tigers

  • 9:30 p.m. on ESPN

(2) Dayton Flyers vs. (7) Iowa Hawkeyes

  • 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

(1) Tennessee Volunteers vs. (8) Savannah St. Tigers

  • 8 p.m. on ESPNU

(4) Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders vs. (5) Marshall Thundering Herd

  • 9:15 p.m. on ESPN3

(1) Seton Hall Pirates vs. (8) Stony Brook Seawolves

  • 7:15 p.m. on ESPN3

(4) Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. (5) UMass Minutemen

  • 7 p.m. on ESPN2

(3) Stanford Cardinal vs. (6) Cleveland St. Vikings

  • 11 p.m. on ESPN2

For more 2012 National Invitation Tournament coverage, follow along with our stream.

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