Bayou Bengals Bounce Hawks

Iowa played like they thought they were in a meaningless tournament. The uninspired play cost them a chance to say "We're number 65!" LSU came from eight points down in the second half as they were helped by sloppy Iowa play....

The NIT is a tournament that shouldn't be played. Entry qualifications are only that you aren't good enough to play in the NCAA tournament. As the NCAA tournament has expanded in recent years from 16 to 32 to 64 teams, the NIT has lost any relevance that it ever had.

The NIT is like the last round of the NFL draft on ESPN2. Who is watching or in fact, who cares? The last pick is known as Mr. Irrelevant and is awarded a prize. In college basketball, the prize is known as the NIT champion.

Given that analogy, Iowa basketball is a free agent.

The Hawks played like they didn't care. Their hearts weren't in this game. This was not like the Big Ten Tournament where they got a chance at redemption for an underachieving season. They weren't in the "Big Dance." The closest they will get to the NCAA tournament is in front of their television set.

"Now they get to watch. They get to watch the NIT. They get to watch the NCAA" said Iowa coach Steve Alford.

"And if that doesn't eat at them, then they're probably in the wrong program. And that's kind of what I told them in the locker room."

"I want to thank our fans, because if I look across the country at teams as bad as our team this year, most of the fans weren't there. And our fans were with us all year long" said Alford.

Over 10,500 fans were in attendance as the Hawks reverted to their January-February selves. The bad boy of their Jekyll and Hyde season was the one displayed Wednesday night.

The magic was out of Luke Recker's game as his three point attempt with seven seconds left in the game went awry. No more "Hoosier" heroics for the Indiana transfer. Recker's 12 points included just 4 out of 16 shooting and only 2 out of ten from threeville.

Next year's team leader, Pierre Pierce, led the Hawks in scoring with 13. Reggie Evans added 10 points but missed a double-double with 9 rebounds. However, he did lay his usual bricks at the charity stripe.

LSU got a double-double from Ronald Dupree with 19 points and 11 boards. Torris Bright added 18 points as the Bayou Bengals showed their stripes and ended Iowa's season.

Speaking of stripes, Iowa showed their's also as a season of disappointment ended in this display.


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