MIssouri State shook off its NCAA Tournament snub with aplomb in the first round of the NIT, topping sixth-seed Murray State by a score of 89-76 to move on to the second round of what is known, outside waggish circles, as the National Invitation Tournament. Jermaine Mallett picked up 23 impressively efficient points and six rebounds to pace the Bears, who won the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley Conference but nevertheless found themselves on the wrong side of the March Madness bubble.
Missouri State, the third seed in the tournament's Region 1, will take on the winner of tonight's contest between Miami and Florida Atlantic University in the second round of the tournament. Their local number-one seed, Alabama, won a blowout in their own first round game, battering Coastal Carolina by a score of 68-44. With two three-seeds of four being upset in the first round of NIT games—Colorado State fell to Fairfield, and the College of Charleston knocked out Dayton—the Bears have at least avoided one pitfall on the way to consolation tournament glory.