FRISCO, Texas — It is “Beat Ole Miss” week for Louisiana Tech fans.
Days after the Diamond ‘Dogs dismantled the Rebels, 13-1, at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, the Dunkin’ Dogs will battle the Rebels on the hardwood in the National Invitation Tournament.
The first-round matchup goes down tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. Fans can also tune in to KXKZ 107.5 FM or the LA Tech Athletics app to listen to Malcolm Butler and Jack Thigpen call the action.
Last week, LA Tech (21-7) left the Ford Center in Frisco disappointed after falling, 54-48, to eventual champion North Texas in the C-USA Tournament semifinals.
The Bulldogs have returned to the Dallas suburb, this time at the Comerica Center to take part in the postseason for the first time since 2016. They open against an Ole Miss team (16-11) that barely missed an NCAA Tournament at-large invitation, and is one of the top four seeds in the 16-team NIT.
Thirty-five years ago, Wayne Smith and Co. became the first Bulldog squad to play in the NIT, making it all the way to the Final Four where they defeated Florida in the consolation game. This is the 10th time Tech has taken part in the event.
Isaiah Crawford will be a key piece to LA Tech. The third-team All-Conference USA forward averaged 15.0 points while shooting 57.9 percent from the field in the two C-USA Tournament games.
JaColby Pemberton also had a productive tourney, scoring in double figures in both games. The senior averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
The Bulldogs enter the NIT winners of 13 of their last 16 games. Ole Miss got hot late in the season as well, winning seven of the last nine regular season games, as the Rebels were one of the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament.
After beating South Carolina in the second round of the SEC Tournament, Ole Miss fell 76-73 to LSU in the quarterfinals.
“They are an extraordinary rebounding team,” Konkol said. “We do have the knowledge of having seen coach Kermit Davis for a number of years when he was at Middle Tennessee. He still mixes up his defenses, running some of the similar things. They just missed the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. This is a great opportunity for us to play postseason basketball on this level at this stage against a very good team.”
The contest is bound to be a defensive battle. LA Tech is allowing just 64.6 points per game, stopping 10 opponents from reaching 60 points. Ole Miss is allowing teams to average just 63.4 points per game and on 12 occasions this season, held their opponent to under 60.
The key player for the Rebels is first-team All-SEC guard Devontae Shuler, who averages 15.3 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Tonight’s game will be the 12th meeting between LA Tech and Ole Miss. The Rebels lead the series 8-3, winning five straight. The last meeting came in 2015 in Oxford, Mississippi.
Photo by DARRELL JAMES