By The Associated Press
JACKSON — Four Mississippi college basketball teams will play in postseason tournaments — three of them are in the NIT.
Mississippi State, an overtime loser to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference championship on Sunday, hosts Jackson State in a NIT opener at 9 p.m. on Tuesday in Starkville.
It was not where the Bulldogs wanted to be — or perhaps expected to be. They figured to make the NCAA tourney.
Coach Rick Stansbury has little to say.
“What should matter,” he told The Clarion-Ledger after the 75-74 overtime loss to Kentucky, “is anybody that witnesses what we’ve accomplished, what our team has done, witness that game right there.”
Mississippi State drew one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NIT.
MSU athletic director Greg Byrne said he was disappointed.
“Obviously, we know the basketball committee has a very challenging job and there’s a lot of very good teams out there,” Byrne told the Jackson newspaper. “But we are obviously disappointed that we were not included in the NCAA tournament, and we certainly felt that we were deserving of an at-large bid. We’ll look forward to having discussions and follow up with the committee.”
Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said his Tigers will have to play their best basketball for a chance to beat the Bulldogs.
Ole Miss will play regular-season Sun Belt Champion Troy at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Oxford.
“Although we are obviously disappointed in not reaching the NCAA Tournament, we’re looking forward to continuing our season,” Coach Andy Kennedy said in a statement.
Southern Miss will play in the second annual CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Eagles will travel to Ruston, La. to face Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
“I think it is a step in the right direction for the program,” said coach Larry Eustachy. “I think it will help the team. Our goal is to win the tournament … I know they’re excited.”