No. 5 seed Ole Miss is set to host No. 6 seed Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the NIT tonight at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2. With a win, the Rebels would advance to the NIT Final Four for the third time in school history. Ole Miss is 15-11 all-time in 12 NIT appearances.
Ole Miss is fresh off an upset of No. 1 seed Syracuse on Saturday. Senior forward Sebastian Saiz recorded his 31st career double-double with 10 points and 12 boards in the win. He now has 22 double-doubles this season, which leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally.
Saiz is averaging an SEC-best 11.3 rebounds per game, which is also good for fifth in all of college basketball. He’s the only player in the conference averaging a double-double this season. Saiz is the league’s active career rebounding leader, having recently moved past Walter Actwood into second in Ole Miss history with 993 rebounds. He needs just seven rebounds to become the seventh player in SEC history with 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 100 blocked shots, as well as to join Murphy Holloway as the only players in Ole Miss history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Saiz recently sat down with local media to preview Georgia Tech and discuss the Rebels’ NIT run.
On a postseason home game at The Pavilion: “I’ve never had a postseason game here at home. From what I've heard, it's a lot of people coming. It's going to be a lot of fun.”
On having to guard against looking ahead to New York: “Two games ago when we started the tournament we weren't close to thinking about it, but once you get those two wins, it's just so close, you start thinking about it.”
On the success of the SEC in the NCAA Tournament: “The SEC is a great league, and they're showing it. I was joking around today that it's basically like we beat Duke twice. Syracuse beat Duke, South Carolina beat Duke. We beat both of them. It's great to see how good they're playing for our league.”
On team chemistry: “We’re getting together, all playing good. We just know that when we lose we're going to be done. There's nothing else after that. That makes us compete harder.”
More on team chemistry: “The chemistry of the team has really been good the whole year, like, outside of the arena. We basically all leave together and do everything together, but once we would get on the court, I don't want to call it selfish, but people were kind of looking for themselves, for their numbers. But now that the regular season is over, the SEC Tournament, they've already given the awards and everything, I think we're all playing together great. We don't care who scores. We're just playing basketball. That's great stuff.”
On possibly playing in Madison Square Garden: “That would be a great place to finish it. I've never played in Madison Square Garden. The NIT Final Four is a big deal. If we make it, it will be a great note to get out of here.”
More on Madison Square Garden: “It’s one of the most famous arenas in the whole world. Everybody wants to play there. All basketball guys want to play there, high school, college, professional, you all want to play in the Madison.”