Andrew Hutchinson has been a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2014.
Hogs draw NIT's top attendance on Day 1
Arkansas fans congratulate players following an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Arkansas beat SMU 89-78. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)
FAYETTEVILLE Only 7,697 fans saw Arkansas beat Indiana State 91-71 in the first round of the NIT Tuesday night.
When the Razorbacks played Northern Arizona in the first round of the 1997 NIT, 9,486 fans came to the game.
The crowd for the Indiana State game was also well below the Razorbacks’ average attendance of 14,597 at Bud Walton Arena this year, but it was still a lot compared to the other eight NIT games played that day.
Clemson drew the second-most fans on the first day of the tournament, as 3,859 people saw the Tigers beat Georgia State 78-66. That is nearly half the size of the crowd at Arkansas’ game.
Largest NIT Crowds
Arkansas - 7,697
SMU - 5,031
Louisiana Tech - 4,643
Southern Miss - 4,054
Georgia - 3,951
The only other NIT game that drew 3,000-plus fans Tuesday was the High Point-Minnesota game.
Georgetown came the closest to filling its arena to capacity, with 85.3 percent of its seats filled, but only because the Hoyas played at McDonough Arena, where the women’s team plays and the men’s team usually practices.
If the game had been played at their normal home arena, the Verizon Center, the 2,133 fans in attendance would have filled just 11.7 percent of the seats.
No other game even hit 50 percent. The Razorbacks were the closest, at 40.1 percent capacity.
Compared to the teams’ average attendance this season, attendance looked slightly better.
The 2,770 fans that came to Green Bay’s first round game against Belmont were 71.9 percent of the Phoenix’s average attendance.
Arkansas’ crowd was 52.7 percent of its normal size, making it the second largest in that category, while Clemson’s was 52.2 percent.