PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) - BYU is headed to the NIT for the second straight year.
The third-seeded Cougars (22-11) will host No. 6 seed UT-Arlington (25-8) Wednesday in the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN2. The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the winner of No. 2 seed Houston and No. 7 seed Akron in the second round.
Head coach Dave Rose's alma mater is Houston.
BYU was eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention after losing to St. Mary's in the WCC Tournament on Monday. UT-Arlington is the only team to beat St. Mary's this season besides Gonzaga.
UT-Arlington finished 25-8 overall and won the Sun Belt regular season title at 14-4. Kevin Hervey leads the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding at 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Jalen Jones (12.4) and Erick Neal (10.4) also average double figures while Neal leads the team in assists at 6.4 per contest. Hervey was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and earned first-team honors while Neal was also named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team.
Head coach Scott Cross, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, is in his 11th year at the helm at UT Arlington. He has a career record of 202-147. This is the fifth postseason invitation the Mavericks have received under Cross, including an NCAA bid in 2008, a trip to the NIT in 2012 and two appearances (2013, 2016) in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
As a team, UT Arlington averages 77.3 points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from downtown. Maverick opponents average 69.0 points and shoot 41.3 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from 3.
BYU coach Dave Rose has guided the Cougars to the postseason in each of his 12 seasons at the helm, including eight at-large bids to the NCAA tournament (2007-12, 2014 and 2015) and four to the NIT. In 2013 and 2016, the Cougars won three straight games in the NIT to reach the semifinals in Madison Square Garden.
This will mark BYU’s 13th appearance in the NIT. The Cougars have an 18-10 record in the NIT, including titles in 1951 and 1966. In addition to the title years, BYU has also played in the NIT in 1953, 1954, 1982, 1986, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2013 and 2016.
The Cougars made it all the way to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden last year, losing to Valparaiso.
BYU has been led all season by sophomore big man Eric Mika, who has been named to the All-WCC First Team, the USBWA District VIII Player of the Year and to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team. Mika averages 20.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks and has 17 double-doubles.
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