LSU hosting North Texas in NIT on Tuesday night

LSU coach Matt McMahon and Jordan Wright
Photo by LSU Athletics

 The LSU Tigers, almost 24 months after the team had no coaching staff and no players on its roster, will return to post season play after being selected Sunday in the 2024 National Invitation Tournament.

That tournament will begin in Baton Rouge at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Tuesday night against North Texas (18-14), a team LSU defeated, 66-62, in the Charleston Classic in November.

The game will be televised on the SEC Network. Tipoff is at 6 PM central.

Tickets for the game will all be general admission at $20 a ticket for adults and $10 a ticket for youth and are available beginning Monday morning at 9 a.m. in person at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUTix.net. The first 1,500 LSU students will be admitted free to the game.

There will be no reserved parking for the game. Parking will be available in the various lots around the Maravich Center.

LSU finished the season at 17-15 and 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU’s +7 in wins in the SEC from 2023 to 2024 is tied for second in improvement among all teams in the Power 6 conferences behind only South Carolina from the SEC.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue our season in the NIT this week,” said LSU Basketball Head Coach Matt McMahon. “Our players and coaches are looking forward to playing in front of our fans in the PMAC on Tuesday. We have great respect for North Texas and look forward to preparing for our first-round game. We invite all of our LSU fans, students, former players, and community to join us on Tuesday night in creating a home court advantage in Baton Rouge.”

The Tigers had wins over three teams in the Associated Press media Top 25 in league play – No. 22 Ole Miss, No. 11 South Carolina and No. 17 Kentucky – and won five of their last 10 games, including three-of-the-last-five and five-of-the-last-eight contests.

Grad students Jordan Wright (14.8 points) and Will Baker (11.2 points) lead the Tigers in overall scoring for the season with sophomore Tyrell Ward at 9.1 points a game. LSU averaged 76.3 points and 35.8 rebounds a game, shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 35.3 three-point percentage with 245 makes, and 71.9 percent from the free throw line.

Over the last 10 games, Jordan Wright is averaging 13.9 points, Tyrell Ward is at 12.6 and Trae Hannibal is at 10.0 points, a team best 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

North Texas was 10-8 in the American Athletic Conference and was led by Jason Edwards who averaged 19.1 points a game with 80 three-pointers. Rubin Jones averaged 12.0 points, Aaron Scott 11.1 and CJ Noland 10.5. North Texas averaged 69.1 points and won 4-of-their-last-6 games.

In the win in Charleston over North Texas, Baker led LSU with 16 points, while Derek Fountain scored 14 and Jordan Wright 12. LSU shot 50 percent from the field, 24-of-48, holding North Texas to 19-of-60 (31.7 percent), but North Texas also made 12 three-pointers in the contest.

After a one-year absence, the Tigers are back in postseason play with the bid to the NIT. It also will mark the fourth postseason appearance for Coach Matt McMahon after three NCAA appearances in his time as head coach at Murray State.

For the Tigers, it will be their ninth NIT appearance – 1970, 1982, 1983, 2002, 2004, 2012, 2014, 2018 and now 2024.

LSU’s most impressive NIT showing came in 1970 under Coach Press Maravich with his son, national player of the year Pete Maravich. All the games then were played in Madison Square Garden with LSU beating Georgetown, 83-82, and Oklahoma, 97-94. In the semifinals, Marquette defeated LSU, 101-79 and then Army won the third-place game, 75-68.

LSU has played four games in the postseason NIT in Baton Rouge at the Maravich Center with a 1-3 record – winning in the opening round over Louisiana-Lafayette (86-76) in 2018 and losses in 1982 to Tulane (83-72, 1st rd.), 1983 to UNO (99-94, ot, 1st rd.) and in the second round in 2002 after LSU won at Iowa, 75-65, to Ball State.

Under the new NIT selection rules that were put in play this year, the Tigers were one of the two automatic selections from the SEC based on NCAA NET rankings, after the selections of the SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament teams were made. This will be done in each of the Power 6 leagues (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12, ACC, Big East) with 20 at-large teams then selected.

The previous rules regarding conference champions in one-bid leagues that do not win their conference tournaments that was a part of the NIT selection process is not in effect this season.

There will also be some experimental rules in the NIT this year regarding the lane width and also the media timeouts in the second half of play.

All games in the NIT will be televised on the ESPN family of networks and the LSU game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media flagship Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).

An LSU win would send the Tigers up against either No. 1 seed in that eight-team bracket, Seton Hall, who will play Saint Joseph’s either Saturday or Sunday, March 23-24. 

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