Indiana State rallies for NIT-opening win over SMU

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 21 Mar, 2024 at 06:51 AM

Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Kent scored a career-high 35 points on 11-of-12 shooting and Ryan Conwell added 25 as Indiana State staged a second-half comeback to defeat SMU 101-92 in an NIT first-round game on Wednesday night in Terre Haute, Ind.

Indiana State, the regular-season champion in the Missouri Valley Conference, scored 61 points after intermission. The Sycamores (29-6) will meet Minnesota in a second-round matchup Sunday.

With Indiana State down 74-64 after SMU's Chuck Harris nailed a 3-pointer with 10:50 to play, Kent responded with a trey that began a 12-0 run. He added another bucket in the burst and Robbie Avila added four points, including a layup that gave the Sycamores their first lead of the game, 76-74, with 8:10 remaining.

Indiana State shot a sizzling 70.4 percent from the floor in the second half after managing just 41.4 percent before the break. Avila, the focal point of the offense who came in averaging 17.5 points per game, scored just 13 but added eight rebounds and seven assists.

Zhuric Phelps scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made three steals for the Mustangs (20-13). Ja'Heim Hudson netted a season-high 21 points and Harris had 19 for SMU, which led by as many as 15 points in the opening minutes of the second half. Tyreek Smith added 11 points, 10 of them in the second half.

Indiana State expanded its lead to 81-75, but Smith's dunk pulled SMU back within two with 5:11 left. That was as close as the Mustangs would get, as Conwell hit a 3-pointer and Kent sank a layup to push the lead to seven. It hit 10 on Xavier Bledson's trey with 2:47 left in the game.

After shooting 61.3 percent in the first half and leading 49-40, SMU stumbled to 35.3 percent after intermission, missing seven straight shots in one stretch as Indiana State pulled away. The Mustangs shot 47.7 percent for the game, and the Sycamores finished at 55.4 percent.

--Field Level Media