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Top-seeded Indiana State pulls away late to beat Utah 100-90 and reach NIT championship game

By Associated Press - | Apr 2, 2024

Michael Conroy, Associated Press

Utah guard Deivon Smith (5) drives past Indiana State guard Ryan Conwell (3) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the NIT on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Conwell matched his career high with 27 points and Robbie Avila had 26 points and 10 rebounds to help top-seeded Indiana State take advantage of a heavily partisan home-state crowd to beat second-seeded Utah 100-90 on Tuesday night and advance to the NIT championship game.

Isaiah Swope added 15 points — all in the second half — and eight assists for Indiana State (32-6), which reached its first national tourney title game since Larry Bird took the unbeaten Sycamores to the 1979 NCAA title game against Magic Johnson and Michigan State.

A win Thursday in Indianapolis, against either top-seeded Seton Hall (23-12) or fourth-seeded Georgia (20-16), would allow the Sycamores to tie the 1978-79 team’s single-season school record for victories.

Deivon Smith had a career high 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Utes (22-15), the last Pac-12 men’s team still playing in the league’s farewell season. Branden Carlson scored 17. Utah made 17 3-pointers, with Smith going 6 of 6.

It certainly wasn’t easy for Indiana State to take control. But once it did, turning a 10-2 run midway through the second half into a 63-56 lead, the Sycamores never trailed again and extended the margin to as much as 15.

Avila got it all started, scoring 11 points in the first eight minutes to help Indiana State build a 28-17 lead. But Smith led Utah back and helped the Utes take a 34-33 lead late in the first half. Then it became a back-and-forth contest until Indiana State’s decisive second-half push.


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