The last time Salt Lake Community College played in the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, the Bruins won a national championship.
They’ll try to recapture that magic again this week, as SLCC heads to this year’s tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Bruins won the title in 2016, adding to their first national championship in 2009.
This time, the Bruins will be the No. 4 seed, earning a first-round bye. SLCC (30-3), which enters the tournament on a five-game winning streak, will take on No. 13 seed South Plains College in the second round Wednesday at 11 a.m. MDT.
"We are excited about our seed," SLCC coach Todd Phillips said in a press release. "It's a reward for the outstanding season we had. Tournament time is always exciting as it's about matchups and getting into a groove."
The Texans (24-8) beat No. 20 seed Highland 91-71 on Monday to advance to play the Bruins. The winner between SLCC and South Plains will face the winner of No. 5 seed Coffeyville and No. 12 Connors State in Thursday's semifinals.
Two years ago, Salt Lake Community College earned the No. 13 seed at the tourney and won five straight to take home the national crown. The Bruins won four of the five games by double digits, including the national championship game, when SLCC beat host Hutchinson Community College 74-64.
Bushmen Ebet is a holdover from the national championship team two years ago, after sitting out last season. This year, he's averaging a team-best 14.5 points per game while hitting 72 3-pointers.
Ebet played in all five NJCAA tournament games two years ago, averaging 19.4 minutes, 6.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 38.4 percent from the field.
The 2017-18 Bruins are also led by Christian Gray (13.4 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, a team-high 55.8 field goal shooting percentage) and Kur Kuath (10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 61.2 FG percentage and 3.5 blocks per game).
This is the fourth time SLCC has made the NJCAA tournament under Phillips in his seven years as coach. The Bruins are 6-2 under Phillips at the tournament.
Second-round action began Tuesday and will conclude Wednesday, with the quarterfinals on Thursday, semifinals on Friday and the NJCAA championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.