Matt McMahon says LSU excited to continue season in NIT, rematch with North Texas

Matt McMahon, LSU basketball coach
LSU head coach Matt McMahon lost his assistant coach to Louisville PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes.

LSU men’s basketball ended the SEC tournament with a loss to Mississippi State, but it still has a shot at post season glory despite missing out on the NCAA Tournament.

LSU will host North Texas in the first round of the NIT tomorrow. The post season tournament comes just 24 months after LSU had no coaching staff or players on its roster. Head coach Matt McMahon said he and the team are excited for the NIT to start.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue our season in the NIT this week,” McMahon said. “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.”

LSU finished the regular season with wins over three teams in the top 25 and won five of its last 10 games, including three of the last five. Jordan Wright led the team with 14.8 points per game and Will Baker is second on the team with 11.2 points per game. McMahon said the entire team will be available for the tournament.

LSU faced North Texas earlier this season and won 66-62. Baker led the team in points with 16. Derek Fountain added 14 points and Wright pitched in with 12. LSU shot 50% from the field and held North Texas to 31.7%. North Texas won the NIT last season with a 68-61 over UAB.

“I’m not sure how much the familiarity helps with this one,” McMahon said. “It’s been, I believe 125 days since we played. I think we’re an a lot different team from that game. Personnel, the rotation is a little different. Style of play is certainly evolved since the season has gone along. Unfortunately, I think they’re an a lot better team as well from when we played them.”

Several teams were invited to the tournament but declined the offers, including Ole Miss. LSU and Georgia are the only two SEC teams in the NIT. McMahon said he isn’t at LSU to celebrate NIT bids, but making the tournament is an important step as the program continues to grow.

“I think it’s important,” McMahon said. “I think that every game. I just think it’s such an incredible privilege to get to put that jersey on. I know for me it’s a privilege to get to coach here at LSU and I want our effort and our energy on the court to reflect that every time we play. It’s always the expectation and the standard. It’s a great field here at the NIT. I think our players want to continue to play and they know wining is a requirement for that to happen.”

This will be LSU’s ninth appearance at the NIT and its first since 2018. It hosted UL Lafayette in the first round in an 88-76 win in 2018. LSU has hosted four NIT games at the PMAC and has a 1-3 record.

This year’s NIT will implement some experimental rule changes about lane width and media timeouts. The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, the same used in the NBA. Second half media timeouts will occur on the first stoppage of play following the 17-, 14-, 8- and 4- minute marks.

LSU and North Texas will tipoff at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

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