The Utes won the first Semifinal Game in a 69-64 thriller, it is the first final’s appearance for the title since 1974 and the last time Utah won a Championship was 1947 with a 49-45 victory over Kentucky.
Leading the way for Utah was Justin Bibbins who scored 19 points, while Sedrick Barefield added 14 points. The game went back and forth throughout and wasn’t decided until the final seconds. Utah was able to move to 15-12 all-time in the NIT, which includes a 2-2 mark in the semifinals.
In the other Semifinal Game Penn State earned a 75-60 victory over Mississippi State. Three Nittany Lions scored in double figures, with sophomore Tony Carr leading the way with 21 points.
As part of the 2018 NIT, experimental rules were in place which included utilizing a wider lane, the international three-point line, and four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.
Thursday night’s meeting will be only the second in history for Penn State vs. Utah in men’s basketball, with both meetings taking place in Madison Square Garden. The Nittany Lions won the December 28, 1971, meeting 80-69 in the ECAC Holiday Festival.
1495 Sports encourages fans to check out the following Postgame Press Conference Videos:
Featuring Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak along with Student-Athletes David Collette and Justin Bibbins
Penn State Nittany Lions
Head Coach Patrick Chambers along with Student-Athletes Shep Garner and Tony Carr