March Madness excitement wasn’t solely relegated to the NCAA tournament Friday.
The BYU Cougars won a back-and-forth duel 80-77 over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second round of the NIT Tournament.
It was the only game of the tournament on Friday, and it lived up to the same thrilling excitement the Big Dance offered.
Here is a look at the remaining second-round schedule for this weekend. An updated bracket can be found here, courtesy of CBSSports.com.
|Second-Round Schedule and Bracket|
|Saturday, March 19||Noon||ESPN||Wagner at Creighton|
|Sunday, March 20||Noon||ESPN||Florida at Ohio State|
|Sunday, March 20||7:30 p.m.||ESPN U||Georgia at Saint Mary's|
|Monday, March 21||7 p.m.||ESPN||George Washington at Monmouth|
|Monday, March 21||9 p.m.||ESPN||Georgia Tech at South Carolina|
|Monday, March 21||11:30 p.m.||ESPN 2||Washington at San Diego State|
"Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four"
BYU Cougars 80, Virginia Tech Hokies 77
Kerry Blackshear Jr. missed two critical free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining, and BYU narrowly held on to its second-round win.
Virginia Tech was forced to foul, and BYU's Chase Fischer connected on both free throws to make it a two-possession game with three seconds remaining. The Hokies mustered a layup on the ensuing drive, but it was too little, too late.
Blackshear’s misses contributed to Virginia Tech’s lackluster effort from the charity stripe, as the Hokies connected on just 12 of 21 free-throw shots.
Virginia Tech also had 14 turnovers that led to 16 BYU points.
But Friday’s affair was nonetheless thrilling, as David Teel of the Daily Press noted:
The teams traded the lead 14 times, and neither led by more than five points in the second half, and that margin was with three seconds to go. There was also a whopping five minutes of regulation in which they were tied.
BYU had the momentum early, jumping to a 20-11 lead midway through the first period, but Virginia Tech crept its way back and tied the game at 24-24 with 6:57 remaining before the break.
The Hokies took their first lead with 5:22 left in the half on Seth Allen's two-point jumper, but headed to the locker room trailing 38-34.
The second half was even more exciting.
BYU kept its lead until Allen reclaimed the advantage at 51-50 on a pair of free throws with 11:45 remaining. From there, it was back and forth the rest of the way.
The Cougars’ stingy defense proved to be the difference in the final five minutes.
Allen finished with 22 points and three assists. Blackshear contributed 13 points and was 6-of-7 from the field, adding seven rebounds. Zach Leday hauled in a game-high 14 boards and added 17 points.
For the Cougars, Kyle Collinsworth finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out 10 assists.
Fischer led the way with a game-high 24 points despite missing 12 of the 20 shots he took. He also extended an impressive streak that trails only Jimmer Fredette, the 2011 National Player of the Year, per BYU Game Notes:
The second-seeded Cougars will host the Wagner-Creighton winner in the Region 1 quarterfinals next week.
The Hokies are headed home, but they have to feel great about finishing the season with college basketball’s biggest turnaround. Virginia Tech finished 19-14 with wins over Virginia and Miami a year after going 11-21 with only two ACC victories.