Hogs land in NIT, play at Providence

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, March 18, 2019
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson signals to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Florida won 66-50. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson signals to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Florida won 66-50. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The season isn't over for the University of Arkansas men's basketball team.

Arkansas (17-15) accepted an NIT bid and will play Providence (18-15) at 8 p.m. Central on Tuesday at Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.

The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Friars are playing at home because they're a No. 4 seed and the Razorbacks are a No. 5 seed.

The Arkansas-Providence winner will play the winner of Tuesday night's Indiana-St. Francis game in Bloomington, Ind.

Indiana, which lost at Arkansas 73-72 on Nov. 18, will play at home through the NIT's first three rounds -- if it advances that far -- because the Hoosiers are a No. 1 seed. The NIT semifinals and championship game are played in New York.

Arkansas is playing in the postseason for the fifth time in the past six seasons, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT appearances.

Providence finished 7-11 in the Big East to tie for eighth with Butler and DePaul.

Arkansas finished 8-10 in the SEC and tied for ninth with Alabama, which is 18-15 and a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

The Crimson Tide play Norfolk State at home on Wednesday night.

The Razorbacks and Tide are the only SEC teams in the 32-team NIT field.

Among common opponents between Arkansas and Providence this season, the Friars beat South Carolina 76-67 at a tournament in Connecticut and won 71-65 at Texas. The Razorbacks lost to Texas 73-71 in overtime in El Paso, Texas, to open the season and lost 77-65 at South Carolina.

NIT Tournament

Arkansas at Providence

WHEN 8 p.m. Central on Tuesday

WHERE Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, R.I.

RECORDS Arkansas 17-15; Providence 18-15

SERIES Providence leads 2-1.

TV ESPN2

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Providence is led by 6-7 junior guard Alpha Diallo, a second-team All-Big East pick who is averaging 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Nate Watson, a 6-10 sophomore, is averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds.

The Friars played in the NCAA Tournament the previous five seasons under Coach Ed Cooley, who is 162-109 in his eighth season at Providence.

Providence's most notable victories this season are over Seton Hall 72-63, at Xavier 64-62 and a sweep of St. John's -- 70-56 on the road and 78-59 at home.

The Razorbacks will play the Friars for the fourth time and for the second time at Providence, which leads the all-time series 2-1.

Arkansas beat Providence 118-79 at home during the 1998-99 season in the teams' first meeting.

The Friars have won the last two games against the Razorbacks, 87-81 at home during the the 1999-2000 season and 67-51 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the 2007-08 season.

Arkansas is making its fourth NIT appearance. The Razorbacks also played in the tournament in 1987, 1997 and 2014.

Arkansas beat Arkansas State University and lost at Nebraska in 1987; beat Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh and UNLV at home to advance to New York, where the Razorbacks lost to Michigan and Connecticut in 1997; and beat Indiana State at home and lost at California in 2014.

Making the NIT means Daniel Gafford, Arkansas' 6-11 All-SEC first-team sophomore forward, will play at least one more game for the Razorbacks. He is projected as a first-round NBA Draft choice.

Gafford is averaging 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and blocked shots.

Freshman guard Isaiah Joe, who has hit an Arkansas record 108 three-point baskets, is five shy of the SEC freshman record of 113 by Jamal Murray during the 2015-16 season.

Arkansas has had an up-and-down season with winning streaks of six and four games, and losing streaks of six -- the longest in Coach Mike Anderson's 17 seasons as coach -- and four games.

The Razorbacks won their final three regular-season games before losing to Florida 66-50 in the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday.

Sports on 03/18/2019

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