Utah Valley (28-8) vs. UAB (28-9)

Men’s NIT semifinals

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. MDT

Orleans Arena (Las Vegas)


Radio: 960 AM

How the Wolverines got here: UVU, the WAC regular-season champions, beat Cincinnati 74-68 at home in the NIT quarterfinals after winning at New Mexico (83-69) and Colorado (81-69) in the tournament’s first two rounds.

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How the Blazers got here: UAB went on the road and beat Vanderbilt 67-59 in the NIT quarterfinals after winning a pair of home games over Southern Miss (88-60) and Morehead State (77-59) to advance.

Key players: The Wolverines’ offense is led by a trio of guards — Justin Harmon, Le’Tre Darthard and Trey Woodbury — who all average 13.7 points or more. Harmon scored a career-high 32 points in UVU’s NIT opening win over New Mexico and is averaging 22.3 points in NIT play, while Woodbury has averaged seven assists per game during the NIT.

Aziz Bandaogo is averaging a double-double for UVU (11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds) on the season, and in the win over Cincinnati he scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He also averages 2.9 blocks per game for the nation’s top shot-blocking team (6.6 per game).

UAB guard Jordan Walker (10) celebrates their victory over North Texas in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas, Friday, March 10, 2023. | Michael Ainsworth, Associated Press

Guard Jordan Walker, who leads UAB by averaging 22.5 points per game, bounced back from a poor shooting performance in the win over Morehead State to score 21 points in the victory at Vanderbilt. 

Center Trey Jamison has back-to-back double-doubles for the Blazers and has averaged 14 points and 11.3 rebounds per game during the NIT. 

Historical significance: UVU has already set a program record for wins in a season (currently at 28) and is making its first appearance in the NIT semifinals in school history. The Wolverines previously made the NIT in 2014, when they lost in the first round.

UAB is making its third appearance in the NIT semifinals. The Blazers are 0-2 in their two previous NIT semifinal appearances, in 1989 and 1993.  

What’s at stake: The winner of Tuesday night’s game will play the winner of North Texas and Wisconsin in the NIT championship. 

The championship is set for Thursday at 7:40 p.m. MDT at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and will be broadcast on ESPN2.