Rebels host UC-Santa Barbara in NIT

The Ole Miss basketball team has earned a postseason berth for the second straight year under head coach Andy Kennedy, as the Rebels received a bid as a No. 2 seed in the National Invitation Tournament, as announced Sunday on the ESPN2 selection show.

Second-seeded Ole Miss (21-10) will face No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara (23-8) in the opening round Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Tad Smith Coliseum. The game will be aired live on ESPNU.

Tickets for the NIT game will be $15 for adults and $4 for students. For tickets, call the Ole Miss Ticket Office at 662-915-7167 or order online through the school's official web site, www.OleMissSports.com. There will be general parking with no charge.

A victory Wednesday would advance the Rebels to a second-round meeting with the winner between No. 3 seed Nebraska and No. 6 Charlotte, which would take place in Oxford on either March 21, 22 or 24. The quarterfinals are scheduled for March 25, 26 or 27. The host school for each round is based on the higher seed. The NIT Final Four is April 1 and 3 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Ole Miss, which has put together two straight 20-win seasons, is back in postseason play for the 14th time in the program's history. The NIT berth this year and second-round appearance last year broke a four-year postseason drought since the Rebels earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2002. That season capped a streak of five straight years with postseason action.

Kennedy is the first head coach in school history to guide the Rebels to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years and the second to direct his squad to consecutive postseason berths during that span.

The Rebels are playing in their eighth NIT and have reached the quarterfinals twice. In 2000 they fell at N.C. State in the quarters, while they also reached the quarterfinals in 1983 before losing at DePaul. Last year the Rebels defeated Appalachian State in Oxford before losing at Clemson.

The Rebels have a 7-7 record in the NIT. They have a 6-1 record in home games in the tourney and have won five straight contests in Oxford dating back to the 1983 NIT. The lone loss in an NIT home game was a 61-59 defeat to Virginia Tech in the 1982 second round.

The Rebels have an overall postseason record of 10-13 in the program's history. Previously, Ole Miss had played in seven NITs (1980, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2007) and six NCAA Tournaments (1981, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002). The Rebels' best postseason result came in the 2001 NCAA Tournament when the team reached the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Arizona.

Ole Miss made its first postseason appearance in 1980, reaching the NIT second round. That season began a string of four straight years with postseason play, including the program's first NCAA berth in 1981.


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