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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Louisiana Tech visits Reed as A&M continues NIT push

Senior+forward+Kourtney+Roberson+dunks+during+A%26amp%3BM%26%238217%3Bs+81-64+first-round+NIT+win+over+Montana.
Cody Franklin

Senior forward Kourtney Roberson dunks during A&M’s 81-64 first-round NIT win over Montana.

Two more victories in the National Invitation Tournament stand between the Texas A&M men’s basketball team and a date at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The 2-seed Aggies, once thought of as NCAA tournament hopefuls, return to the friendly confines of Reed Arena one final time.

A&M (21-11) must get by Louisiana Tech University (26-8) from Conference USA if it wishes to push forward in the NIT bracket to Philadelphia, where it would play top-seeded Temple. The winner of that matchup would then proceed to New York. 

The Bulldogs feature three players who average double-digit points per game and boast one of the nation’s top distributors in Kenneth “Speedy” Smith, a senior who dishes out 7.5 assists per game.

Louisiana Tech was one overtime period away from landing a bid in the NCAA tournament before dropping the Conference USA championship game, 72-62, to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, which went on to upset 3-seed Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Both the Aggies and the Bulldogs, though, enjoyed first-round success in the NIT after each team scored well over its season average point totals to secure 81-64 and 89-79 victories over University of Montana and Central Michigan University, respectively. 

These offensive explosions could be the result of the 30-second shortened shot clock that is being experimented with in this year’s NIT. All NIT tournament play will also implement an expanded four-foot, restricted-area arc.

In Texas A&M’s victory over Montana, two key freshmen helped pick up the slack for turnover-plagued Alex Caruso and the absence of leading scorer, Danuel House, who has missed the past three games with a foot injury.

Alex Robinson took over the point guard position for much of the Montana victory and contributed a career-high 15 points on 5-9 shooting while also dishing eight assists, two shy of his career mark. Peyton Allen returned to shooting form, adding 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting off the bench.

The Aggies will look for increased crowd support with the return of the student body from Spring Break vacations. Only 2,583 of the 12,989 seats were filled at Reed Arena for the opening victory over Montana. 

Monday night’s matchup with Louisiana Tech tips at 6 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

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