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BYU basketball: Cougars earn No. 3 seed in NIT, will host UT Arlington

Published March 13, 2017 12:26 pm

Y. basketball • The Cougars open NIT against a team that defeated Saint Mary's.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Only one college basketball team in the country not named Gonzaga beat the BYU-blasting Saint Mary's Gaels this season.

That would be the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks, regular-season champions of the Sun Belt Conference.

So guess who the Cougars drew as a first-round opponent in the National Invitation Tournament?

Yup, UT Arlington.

Earning a No. 3 seed in the California Bears' quadrant of the 32-team NIT, BYU (22-11) will play host to the No. 6-seeded Mavericks (25-8) on Wednesday at the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

It is BYU's third NIT bid in five seasons and its 12th straight postseason bid, a school record.

UT Arlington defeated then-No. 12 Saint Mary's 65-51 on Dec. 8 in Moraga, its first win over a Top 25 team in program history. Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Kevin Hervey scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Saint Mary's was held to a season-low 31-percent shooting.

A 6-foot-9 forward, Hervey leads the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding at 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Like BYU, UT Arlington likes to push the pace. It averages 77.3 points per game.

The Cougars defeated the Mavericks 87-70 in Provo in 1988 in the schools' first and only matchup.

Some local college basketball fans were hoping for an early BYU-Utah NIT matchup because the Utes refused to play the Cougars last December, paying $80,000 to buy their way out of a contracted game in Provo.

But that can't happen until the NIT's championship game. Utah also received a No. 3 seed and will host Boise State on Tuesday night. Illinois State is the No. 1 seed in Utah's quadrant. The other top seeds are Syracuse and Iowa.

In a twist this year, NIT games will consist of four 10-minute quarters and team fouls will reset to zero at the end of each quarter. Teams will be limited to four personal and/or technical fouls per quarter and each additional foul will result in two free throws.

Also, a 20-second shot clock will be used when the ball is inbounded in the front court.

The winner of the BYU-UT Arlington game will face the winner of No. 2 Houston and No. 7 Akron, a game that will be played at Texas Southern in central Houston because UH's arena is being renovated.

The second-round NIT games will be played March 16-20 and the quarterfinals are set for March 21-22. The semifinals and championship game will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 28 and March 30, respectively.

BYU made it to the semifinals last year before losing to Valparaiso and to the semifinals in 2013 before falling to Baylor. It was a No. 2 seed in 2016 and a No. 3 seed in 2013.


Twitter: @drewjay —

More on UT Arlington

• Mavericks went 25-8 and won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title by two games.

• UTA was upset 83-62 by Texas State in Sun Belt tournament semifinals.

• UTA's leader is Sun Belt Player of the Year Kevin Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior forward.

• Mavericks defeated BYU's West Coast Conference foe Saint Mary's 65-51 in Moraga on Dec. 8.






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