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Georgia, Ole Miss fall to end year in NIT blowouts

The Associated Press

Jacob Burtschi scored 21 points and Air Force won its school record 25th game, a 83-52 blowout of Georgia in the second round of the NIT on Monday night.

The Falcons (25-8), whose NCAA tournament bubble burst with four straight losses to end the season, surpassed last year’s win total in surprisingly easy fashion against a more athletic Bulldogs team that was bothered by both the altitude and Air Force’s relentless zone defense.

Air Force, the top seed in the West, advanced to the semifinals Wednesday night against the DePaul-Kansas State winner at Clune Arena, where the Falcons have won 56 of their last 58 games.

Burtschi added 10 rebounds and Dan Nwaelele scored 19 points for the Falcons.

Terrance Woodbury’s 16 points led the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (19-14), whose quest for their first 20-win season since 2002 ended.

Burtschi had 13 points and seven boards by halftime as the Falcons surged to a 43-24 lead, and he hit a 3-pointer to open the second half after Matt McCraw’s save and assist while falling out of bounds.

Clemson 89, Ole Miss 68: Freshman Trevor Booker had a career-high 21 points and Cliff Hammonds added 18 as Clemson won its eighth straight NIT home game.

The Tigers (23-10), the South region’s No. 1 seed, gets the chance to extend that streak — which coincidentally began after an Ole Miss victory here in the 1982 NIT — when it takes on Syracuse in the most Orange of tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

Mississippi ended its first season under coach Andy Kennedy at 21-13. The Rebels were trying to extend their first postseason appearance since 2002. But their high-scoring backcourt of Clarence Sanders and Bam Doyne managed only 18 points, 13 fewer than their combined averages. Todd Abernethy led Ole Miss with 18 points.

Syracuse 80, San Diego State 64: Demetris Nichols had 20 points and Andy Rautins added 15 for the Orange in front of a tournament-record crowd.

An orange-clad crowd of 26,752, the largest in NIT history, gave the game a championship atmosphere, and Syracuse (24-10) didn’t disappoint, hitting nine 3-pointers and stifling the Aztecs with staunch defense.

Lorrenzo Wade led the sixth-seeded Aztecs (22-11) with 16 points before fouling out with just more than two minutes left, and Mohamed Abukar had 13. Senior guard Brandon Heath finished with 15 points.

DePaul 70, Kansas State 65: Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler led DePaul with 18 points each, and the Blue Demons reached the NIT West Regional finals with a second-round victory over Kansas State.

Draelon Burns added 17 points for third-seeded DePaul.

The Blue Demons (20-13) reached the 20-win mark for the third time in the last four seasons and won two straight postseason games for the first time since the 1990 NIT.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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