TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Thomas scored 22 points as top-seeded Florida State opened the National Invitation Tournament with a 58-53 win against Florida Gulf Coast, last year’s NCAA tournament darlings.
Thomas carried the Seminoles in the second half, scoring 14 consecutive points during one stretch.
Bernard Thompson led the Eagles with 16 points and Jamail Jones chipped in 11.
Okaro White scored 17 for Florida State (20-13) and Montay Brandon finished with eight.
Neither team could find an offensive groove for most of the night. The teams combined for 35 turnovers and the Seminoles led 24-19 at halftime. The 19 points were the second-lowest scoring half of the season for Florida Gulf Coast (22-13).
The Seminoles used a late 8-2 run, including six from White, to grab and hold onto the lead.
GEORGETOWN 77, WEST VIRGINIA 65
WASHINGTON (AP) — D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had a season-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, and Georgetown won a cozy matchup of former conference rivals.
Markel Starks added 14 points, and Jabril Trawick scored 12 for the Hoyas (18-14), who pulled away in the second half in the cramped confines of Georgetown’s 2,500-seat practice gym. The game was played on campus because the circus is in town, occupying the Hoyas’ usual home court, the Verizon Center.
Juwan Staten scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers (17-16), who had a five-game winning streak over the Hoyas come to an end. The schools hadn’t met since West Virginia left the Big East to join the Big 12 in 2012.
BELMONT 80, GREEN BAY 65
ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (AP) — Craig Bradshaw scored a career-high 25 points and Drew Winkler added 15 as Belmont beat short-handed Green Bay.
Belmont (25-9) had a slim 37-33 first-half advantage before ending the half on a 12-4 run to go up 49-37. The Bruins increased the lead to 58-39, and Green Bay (24-7) got no closer than seven late in the game.
Belmont will next face Robert Morris in the second round.
The Phoenix were without leading scorer and Horizon League player of the year Keifer Sykes, who hurt his left ankle in the conference semifinal loss on March 8 and was a scratch just before this game.
It was apparent Green Bay was missing its floor leader, committing a season-high 21 turnovers. While the fourth-seeded Phoenix were giving up the ball, the fifth-seeded Bruins gradually built their lead.
Greg Mays scored 15 points to lead Green Bay.
MINNESOTA 88, HIGH POINT 81
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maverick Ahanmisi scored a career-high 21 points, leading Minnesota past High Point.
Joey King had 14 points and seven rebounds, Mo Walker and Andre Hollins each pitched in 13 points and the Gophers (21-13), the top seed in their quadrant. They will host a second-round game against St. Mary’s.
Austin Hollins hit a 3-pointer to stretch Minnesota’s lead to 47-32 early in the second half, but High Point pushed back with Gophers point guard DeAndre Mathieu out because of a lower-body injury and pulled within 60-55 inside the 8-minute mark. Mathieu was hurt early in the game after a hard foul on his way to the hoop. He played a little bit after that but was pulled for good after halftime.
The Gophers hung out without him.
CLEMSON 78, GEORGIA STATE 66
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — K.J. McDaniels tied his career high with 30 points and had 14 rebounds to lead Clemson to its 10th straight home NIT win.
The Tigers (21-12) will play either Illinois or Boston U. in the second round, also at home. It was the 29th game McDaniels has hit for double figures, 13 of those with 20 or more. He matched his previous best set in a double-overtime loss at Notre Dame last month.
Georgia State (25-9) came in having won Sun Belt Conference regular-season crown and 22 of its past 24 games. But like other Clemson opponents, the Panthers couldn’t ground the high-flying McDaniels.
Georgia State trailed 50-49 on Ryan Harrow’s basket with 12:03 left. Then Clemson took off on a 22-10 run to take control.
R.J. Hunter led five Panthers in double figures with 15 points.
ARKANSAS 91, INDIANA STATE 71
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Anthlon Bell set a career high for the second straight home game, finishing with 28 points as Arkansas pulled away from Indiana State.
The win is the first in the NIT for the third-seeded Razorbacks (22-11) since 1997, the last time the school was in the tournament. It’s also Arkansas’ first postseason win of any kind since a first-round win in the NCAA tournament in 2008.
Bell, who had 23 points in his last home game, had 18 points in 17 first-half minutes to carry Arkansas. Six players scored in double figures for the Razorbacks, and Bobby Portis had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Manny Arop led the Sycamores (23-11) with 12 points.
MISSOURI 85, DAVIDSON 77
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jabari Brown scored 30 points and Earnest Ross added 16 to help Missouri hold off Davidson 85-77 in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night.
After trailing most of the game, Brown converted a free throw with 1:17 remaining to cap a 10-2 Missouri (23-11) run and give the Tigers an 81-74 lead. Davidson’s Tyler Kalinoski hit a 3-pointer to end the streak, but the Wildcats could get no closer than four points the rest of the way.
With the win, Missouri advances to face the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between Southern Mississippi and Toledo.
De’Mon Brooks led Davidson (20-13) with a career-high 29 points. The Wildcats ended their season with two consecutive losses after winning 13 in a row to win the Southern Conference regular-season title.
ROBERT MORRIS 89, ST. JOHN’S 79
NEW YORK (AP) — Karvel Anderson scored 38 points and Lucky Jones added 25 to help Robert Morris beat St. John’s.
Robert Morris improved to 22-13 and will play Belmont in the second round.
Jamal Branch scored 22 points to lead the Red Storm (21-13).
The Colonials led by as much as 25 in the first half and had a 49-27 advantage at halftime.
Robert Morris’ lead grew to as much as 26 points in the second half before the Red Storm used its press to go on a 24-6 run spanning 6½ minutes to cut the lead to 74-66.
Anderson’s 3 from the left corner increased Robert Morris’ lead to 11 and effectively sealing the win.
SAINT MARY’S 70, UTAH 58
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Kerry Carter scored 10 points over the final 5 minutes and Saint Mary’s stormed back from 10 points down in the second half to beat Utah 70-58 on Tuesday in the first round of the NIT.
Carter missed his first five shots before making a pair of 3-pointers, recording a steal and scoring on a fast break layup to complete the remarkable comeback for the Gaels (23-11) after guard Stephen Holt fouled out. Holt, Saint Mary’s second-leading scorer, had 15 points.
The fourth-seeded Gaels will play against Minnesota in the second round.
Jordan Loveridge scored 16 points for Utah (21-12), which led the entire first half and was up 41-31 with 12:30 remaining before collapsing down the stretch.