Greenville, S.C. – The Furman men's basketball team has earned an at-large bid to the National Invitation Tournament as a No. 3 seed and will play host to 6th-seeded Wichita State in first round action on Wednesday night at Timmons Arena. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
Tickets for Wednesday's game are $15 each and can be purchased at FurmanPaladins.com. Season ticket holders have until Tuesday, March 19, at 12 p.m. to reserve their seats and are encouraged to use their season ticket log-in to do so. Furman students will receive free admission with a valid Furman ID.
The winner of Wednesday's matchup between the Paladins and Shockers will advance to face the winner of No. 2 seed Clemson and No. 7 seed Wright State.
The Paladins, 25-7 on the season and ranked No. 41 in the latest NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), will be making their 11th postseason appearance and third in the last four seasons. Wednesday's game will represent just the second appearance in the NIT for the Paladins, who dropped an 86-67 decision at West Virginia in their only previous trip to the NIT in 1991.
Included among Furman's school-record 25 wins this season were victories at Big East champion and defending national champion Villanova and a win at Missouri Valley Conference champion Loyola Chicago. The Paladins earned a spot in the Associated Press Top 25 for three straight weeks during December after becoming the first Southern Conference team to begin a season with 12 consecutive wins since the 1964-65 campaign.
First team All-SoCon forward Matt Rafferty, a candidate for the Lou Henson Award as mid-major player of the year, has paced the Paladins by averaging 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 61.7% from the field. The senior is the only player in NCAA Division I basketball history to produce that stat line with AP Player of the Year and NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird coming the closest in 1978-79. This past week, Rafferty was ranked as the 34th best player in college basketball this season by Sports Illustrated.
Junior Jordan Lyons, a third team All-SoCon selection, has contributed 16.1 points per game and established a new school record with 101 made three-point baskets, while sophomore Clay Mounce has added 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The Paladins rank among the country's top 45 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Furman also paced the SoCon this season in field goal percentage defense (41.7%), three-point field goal percentage defense (31.7%), assists (15.9/game) and blocked shots (4.2/game).
Wichita State enters postseason play at 19-14 overall and posted a 10-8 mark in the American Athletic Conference. Wednesday's game will mark the first meeting between the Paladins and Shockers on the hardwood.
The 2019 NIT will feature several experimental rules, including moving the three-point line back one foot, eight inches, widening the lane to 16 feet and resetting the shot clock to 20 seconds after offensive rebounds. Team fouls will also be reset at the 10-minute mark of each half and there will be no "one-and-one" free throw situations.