With four postseason tournaments besides the one most pay attention to, it can be easy to get lost in the mix. The NIT doesn’t really have that problem since it has a rich history that continues today, but amidst the NCAA Tournament, the early entrants to the NBA Draft and the coaching carousel, it can be easy to not notice the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) and Vegas 16. But each retains something unique to it all the same.
The CBI was the first of those tournaments to come up, and where it especially stands out is what happens to determine the championship. It uses a best-of-three format, with the first game at one school’s home court and the second game at the other school’s home court. If the teams each win a game, a third game is held at the same site as the second game. The ninth iteration of the event completed on Friday, and only twice has the championship series not gone to a third game.
There was still some history on Friday night as Morehead State and Nevada met in Reno for another third and deciding game: the first overtime game in a CBI championship series.
The game had much more than that going for it, though. The home team won both games to this point, so Nevada appeared to have an edge. The Wolfpack turned that into an in-game edge, running out to a 26-12 lead in the first half and still holding a seven-point lead at intermission. They would build the lead back up to 13 on a couple of occasions in the second half before Morehead State battled back, eventually tying it at 61 with over eight minutes left.
The teams were neck-and-neck for the next seven minutes, but Nevada appeared to be in good shape when the Eagles committed a foul away from the ball and the Wolfpack’s Cameron Oliver hit two free throws to put them up 74-70 with 28 seconds left in regulation. But the Eagles got a three-pointer, then after Tyron Criswell missed one of two free throws, DeJuan Marrero hit two free throws to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, Morehead State again had to play from behind, until a Lyonell Gaines layup with just under two minutes left gave them an 82-80 lead. But they wouldn’t score again, as Criswell got a layup off a deflection with 16 seconds left, then a big stop led to two free throws for a three-point lead. Xavier Moon just missed a shot from about midcourt, as it hit the rim, and Nevada had an 85-82 win.
Criswell finished his college career with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Nevada will miss him, but they have the conference’s top freshman in Oliver and two other underclassmen starters along with five transfers who sat out this season.
And with that, only one tournament remains, which will resume on Saturday now that the others have had their moment in the sun.
In a busy day of coaching news, there was one firing, which was Detroit parting ways with Ray McCallum. He had been the head coach for eight years, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012 with his son leading the way, then the NIT a year later. But since then, it’s been downhill, and the program has had players with some off-court issues that have required disciplinary action.
The bench at Columbia will have a familiar face leading the way starting next season. Jim Engles, a former assistant, will leave his head coaching position at NJIT to return and lead Columbia. Engles worked under Joe Jones before heading across the river to build up NJIT as they went from the now-defunct Great West Conference back to being an independent, then to the Atlantic Sun. The Highlanders made it to the semifinals of the CIT the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, out west, Portland will have someone leading its program whose name is familiar in the area. Former Trail Blazer point guard Terry Porter, who has coached in the NBA since his retirement, will take over the program. That makes him the second hire in the conference who played in the NBA within the past 20 years, joining new Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire, who also spent time with the Trail Blazers.
Continuing the coaching news is another Oklahoma assistant who will change jobs once the Sooners are done, as Texas-San Antonio will hire Steve Henson. Henson has been with Lon Kruger for a long time, working with him at UNLV, Illinois and the Atlanta Hawks before the last five years at Oklahoma. You can keep track of all the coaching changes right here.
LSU guard Antonio Blakeney said he will test the NBA waters, declaring for the Draft but not hiring an agent. A very talented player out of high school, he struggled mightily to hit shots during this past season, which helped contribute to LSU underachieving. You can keep track of early entrants to the NBA Draft right here.
The national semifinals are finally here after the week of anticipation.
- First, at 6:09 p.m. Eastern, Oklahoma takes on Villanova.
- Later, at 8:49 p.m. Eastern, North Carolina takes on Syracuse.