Texas Southern (19-12) at Colorado (21-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 16th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coors Events Center (11,064) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: ESPN3.com. NIT Record: Texas Southern 0-0, Colorado 8-7. Series Record: Colorado leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Perhaps the most egregiously omitted team of this year's NCAA Tournament, the Colorado Buffaloes will instead take their act to the National Invitational Tournament, for a date with eighth-seeded Texas Southern at the Coors Events Center.
Tonight's victor will advance to a second round matchup with the Ole Miss/California winner.
Texas Southern will be making its first-ever NIT appearance. The Tigers finished the regular season at 19-12 overall and 16-2 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play, capturing the league's regular season title in the process. Texas Southern fell to Alabama State in the semifinals of the SWAC Championship Tournament.
Colorado last appeared in the NIT in 2005-06, falling to Old Dominion, 79-61, in the opening round. The Buffaloes won the NIT title in 1939-40, and sport an 8-7 record in the tourney to date. Despite winning six of its last nine games this season, including two in the Big 12 Tournament, and reaching the semifinals for the first time - where it fell to second-ranked Kansas -, Colorado was omitted from the NCAA Tournament's 68-team field. Instead, the Buffaloes received an NIT invite and one of the tournament's four top-seeds.
Tonight marks just the second meeting between Texas Southern and Colorado. In the teams' first meeting, on Nov. 18, 2009, the Buffaloes earned an 88-77 win. They are 8-0 all-time against the SWAC.
Texas Southern is led primarily by SWAC Player of the Year Travele Jones. After being named the league's preseason player of the year, Jones delivered on the hype and currently leads the Tigers in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounding (6.9 rpg), free throws attempted (220) and free-throws made (148). He averaged 17.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg in SWAC play. Jones is aided by SWAC Newcomer of the Year Kevin Galloway, who leads the team in assists (192) and steals (34), while ranking third in scoring (11.1 ppg). Lawrence Johnson-Danner, the league's Freshman of the Year, adds skill from the perimeter. He has hit a team-high 70 three-pointers on 39.8 percent shooting from deep, to rank second on the team in scoring at 12.9 ppg. In all, the Tigers score 63.9 ppg, while allowing 64.6 ppg on the other end of the floor.
Alec Burks, a unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team selection, has led Colorado to a solid 79.6 ppg clip. He is just one of four players nationally (Marshon Brooks, Providence; Norris Cole, Cleveland State; and Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara) to average more than 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He ranks first on team in scoring (20.1 ppg) and assists (97) and second in rebounding (6.4 rpg). Additionally, Burks was named to the Big 12's all- tournament team after averaging 25.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2 steals per game in tourney play. He is supported by All-Big 12 Third Team selection Cory Higgins, who scores 15.8 ppg and Big 12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year Levi Knutson, who scores 12 ppg behind a team-high 72 three-pointers. The Buffaloes post a plus 2.4 rebounding margin behind the strengths of Andre Robinson, who ranks sixth nationally among freshman in rebounds per game (7.8 rpg). They allow 73.7 ppg on the defensive end of the floor.
Expect Colorado to earn the win tonight. The biggest challenge for the Buffaloes will be overlooking their NCAA Tournament snub and focusing on the task at hand. They should persevere due to strong upperclassmen leadership and an exhibited dominance over SWAC teams in past matchups.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado 85, Texas Southern 72
03/16 10:32:22 ET