NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The Iona College men's basketball team drew Conference USA's Louisiana Tech in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament this Wednesday (Mar. 19). The Gaels will travel to Ruston, LA and the Thomas Assembly Center for a matchup with the Bulldogs at 7:30 pm on ESPN3. The No. 6 seeded Iona takes on No. 3 seed Louisiana Tech.
The Maroon & Gold (22-10, 17-3 MAAC) was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's regular season champion and held the No. 1 seed in the championship tournament last weekend. Iona fell to Manhattan in the final. The Gaels are led by All-MAAC First Teamers Sean Armand and A.J. English and Second Teamer David Laury along with seniors Tre Bowman and Mike Poole and sophomore Isaiah Williams. All but Poole average 10 or more points per game. Iona's 83.5 points per game ranks No. 4 in the nation while its 10.31 three-pointer per game is second to Creighton’s 10.36.
Louisiana Tech (27-7, 13-3 C-USA) finished in a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA and was also the No. 1 seed in its conference tournament. The Bulldogs also lost in their championship game, 69-60 to Tulsa in at UTEP's Don Haskins Center. Like the Gaels, LA Tech boasts a high-scoring, balanced offensive attack with four players averaging 10 or more points and eight that average six or more. They average 81.5 ppg (12th in the nation), are stingy on defense (65.1 ppg, 57th nationally) and boast the second highest scoring margin in the NCAA this season.
Sophomore guard Alex Hamilton leads with 14.6 ppg. The Chipley, FL native is second on the team with 2.9 assists per game. He has connected on 156-of-216 free throw attempts, nearly double his nearest teammate.
Junior guard Raheem Appleby was the team's leading scorer averaging 16.1 ppg before suffering a severe ankle injury in early January. Since returning to the lineup Feb. 22, he's averaged just nine minutes a game and his season scoring averaged has dipped to 12.3 ppg.
Senior forward Chris Anderson averages 12.0 ppg and is No. 2 on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Kenyon McNeil is the team's sharpshooting sixth man with 79 three-point field goals at a 40.1% clip, while averaging 10.8 ppg. Junior forward Michale Kyser 6.8 ppg and a team-best 6.7 rpg and junior guard Kenneth Smith averages 7.5 points, 7.9 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. He is second in the nation in assists and eighth in steals.
The Gaels make their fifth ever appearance in the NIT and first since 1997. The Gaels are 1-4 all time in the tournament after falling at UConn on Mar. 12, 1997. The Maroon & Gold’s lone win came in the first round of the NIT in 1983, a 90-76 win over St. Bonaventure.
Iona is 0-1 all-time vs. Louisiana Tech after falling 84-54 the then named Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, NJ on Jan 2, 1986. The Gaels are 7-9 against opponents in the currently configured Conference USA, losing four straight including an 82-63 defeat at Marshall on Dec. 11, 2011.
2014 NIT Bracket: http://www.icgaels.com/fls/14900/stats/mbasketball/2013-14/gamenotes/14-...
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