NIT 2018: Semifinals Scores, Updated Bracket and Championship Schedule

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: The Penn State Nittany Lions bench celebrates in the second quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during their 2018 National Invitation Tournament Championship semifinals game at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Utah and Penn State were left begging on Selection Sunday.

Now they'll be playing for men's college basketball's "other" national championship.

The Bulldogs and Nittany Lions were victorious in their respective games Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden and will now move on to play in the NIT championship game.

Here is a recap of both games from the Mecca of Basketball.


Utah 69, Western Kentucky 64

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

For 39 minutes, both teams came to play.

But when it came down to winning time, it was all Utah.

Tyler Rawson hit a go-ahead three with 38 seconds remaining, kicking off a six-point run in the final minute to give Utah a 69-64 win over Western Kentucky.

The two teams played a nail-biter throughout the second half, trading off leads and ties and never being separated by more than two possessions. Justin Bibbins' free throw with 14 seconds remaining was the first time the game had been separated by more than one possession in more than 18 minutes of game time.

Bibbins scored a team-high 19 points, 12 of which came from the line, to lead four Utah players in double figures. Sedrick Barefield (14 points), David Collette (13 points) and Rawson (12 points) were also in double digits.

The Utes shot 47.9 percent from the floor and got to the line 23 times, compared to just 14 for Western Kentucky.

Justin Johnson had a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Hilltoppers, who shot just 34.8 percent as a team. Johnson and Lamonte Bearden were the only starters to make half their shots. Taveion Hollingsworth, Darius Thompson and Dwight Coleby shot a combined 7-of-29 from the floor. Coleby did, however, contribute a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds).

Utah will be playing in its first NIT championship since 1974. The Utes' only NIT title came in 1947.


Penn State 75, Mississippi State 60

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Whereas Utah had to fight for all 40 minutes, Penn State's trip to the title game was almost never in doubt.

Tony Carr scored 21 points and Shep Garner added 18, leading the Nittany Lions to an easy 75-60 win over Mississippi State.

Penn State's victory was carried on the back of a dominant first-half effort, which at one point saw the Lions go on a 24-point run to lead 37-11. The Bulldogs battled from thereon but built themselves an impossible hole—especially with the Penn State backcourt firing on all cylinders.

Carr, whose miserable effort in the NIT opener against Temple nearly cost the Lions the game, had his third straight 20-point performance against Mississippi State. The potential NBA first-round pick also added six rebounds and five assists.

Garner was red hot from distance, with all 18 of his points coming from beyond the arc. The Lions as a team shot 11-of-20 from three-point range; Mississippi State drained just three of its 15 shots from deep.

Lamar Stevens also had a stellar all-around performance, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Penn State will be making its third trip to the NIT title game. The Lions last won the event in 2009 and lost in 1998 to Minnesota.


NIT Championship Game Schedule

March 29, 7 p.m. ET: Penn State vs. Utah, ESPN2

Updated bracket courtesy of NCAA.com.


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