The 2011 NIT has reached it climactic event, with the NIT Championship set for Thursday. On Tuesday, the Final Four got underway as Washington State and Wichita State took the court at Madison Square garden in the first of two NIT semifinal games, with Alabama and Colorado to follow. The Cougars, who had seemed to figure it out as the tournament wore on, disappointed, rolling over and playing dead against a Wichita State team that should’ve been an even matchup.
CougCenter, SB nation’s Washington State blog, took a look back at the game, and found the same problems that plagued the Cougars all year reappeared in the NIT semifinals.
The Shockers took WSU out of everything they wanted to do offensively, and the weak-willed Cougars we hadn’t seen since earlier this season were all too happy to oblige. Wichita State’s energy on defense challenged the Cougs to be more disciplined with their decisions, fight harder for position and be more determined with their cuts.
As Wichita State jumped out to an early lead and Klay Thompson picked up three fouls in the first 10 minutes, it was as if the air was let out of the Cougars’ collective tires. The energy disappeared, Garrett Stutz took over for Wichita State and the Cougars watched as the Shockers built their lead to upwards of 30 points. It wasn’t pretty for Washington State fans, who may have seen the last of both Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.
In the other semifinal, Alabama and Colorado went down to the wire, trading baskets over the final two minutes. With the Buffaloes up one with under a minute to play, Trevor Releford drained a driving layup, giving Alabama a lead it wouldn’t surrender.
Alabama and Wichita State face-off in the NIT Championship on Thursday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. For more on the Cougars, head over to SB Nation’s CougCenter.
For the latest on the tournament, check out the rest of our 2011 NIT Tournament StoryStream.