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A history of Ole Miss basketball in the National Invitational Tournament

Reviewing the 10 times the program has been to the JV version of the NCAA Tournament.

USA TODAY Sports

Though not participating in the NCAA Tournament this year due to [gestures at two loses to Georgia and losses to Mississippi State and Vanderbilt], Ole Miss basketball’s 2020-21 campaign isn’t over. Though it’s up for debate if it might be better if it was over, the season continues tonight against Louisiana Tech in the Metroplex suburb of Frisco.

It’s likely anyone reading this knows nothing about Louisiana Tech basketball, but we do know that Ole Miss forward K.J. Buffen won’t be there, as he now resides in the transfer portal. We also know that we’re not sure if All-SEC guard Devontae Shuler will play due to traveling to be with his family following his mother’s surgery.

While uncertainty abounds for tonights game, we have known records of Ole Miss’ life in the NIT (13-11 all-time!). Starting with their first appearance in 1980, let’s work our way through each of these seasons that ended with not great but not terrible.

1980

Following a 16-12 (9-9) regular season under the direction of Bob Weltich, Ole Miss hosted Grambling in the first round of the NIT. It should be noted that this was the first (FIRST; NUMBER ONE) postseason tournament in the history of the Ole Miss men’s basketball program.

If you’re scoring at home, the NIT was first played in 1938 and the NCAA Tournament began the next year. So just your casual 41-year postseason drought. Happens all the time.

In a game played at a time when the Tad Pad was not yet old enough to drive, Ole Miss survived, winning 76-74. That was followed up by a two-point, second-round loss to Minnesota in Minneapolis (58-56).

However, that exit helped set the table for the following year when Ole Miss won the SEC Tournament and ended their NCAA Tournament drought.

1982

It was another 1-1 showing, as Ole Miss beat Clemson on the road, 53-49, and then lost to Virginia Tech in Oxford, 61-59. How very on brand it was for Ole Miss to play four agonizingly close games that didn’t matter.

1983

Many people are saying the early 1980s were Ole Miss’ golden NIT era. After wins over Alabama State and South Florida*, Ole Miss lost to DePaul in Chicago to end the season.

*It’s possible this is a lie because I’m pretty sure South Florida wasn’t a school until like 2007.

1987

I find that the best way to end a 15-13 regular season is to travel to Hattiesburg and get drilled 93-75 by Southern Miss. Giving the people what they want.

1989

Following a 70-67 first-round loss to St. John’s, Ole Miss opted to spend part of the 90s going to the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. Good call!

2000

Reversing the trend of close wins and losses in the early 80s, Ole Miss opened the NIT with consecutive blowout wins over UNC Charlotte and Southwest Missouri State in Oxford, which was followed by a blowout loss to NC State in Raleigh.

Though this video has nothing to do with the 1999-2000 season, some of the players on that team were there the previous season when I set a personal record for “Earliest I’ve Ever Turned Off An Ole Miss Basketball Game.”

It was 9-4 Auburn, then it was all of a sudden 18-4, and this happened:

Sim to end pls.

2007

Andy Kennedy’s first NIT adventure (of multiple!) continued the blowout win or loss pattern. Ole Miss beat Appalachian State in Oxford, then lost by 21 at Clemson.

Because it’s 2007, this gives us an excuse to relive Clarence Sanders’ dagger against an LSU team that likely had some strong-ass offers but no FBI wiretap confirming their head coach making said strong-ass offers.

2008

After wins over UC Santa Barbara (go Gauchos), Nebraska, and Virginia Tech, Ole Miss reached the Final Four of the NIT for the first time ever. Although they lost to Ohio State, I have no doubt while they were in New York City, they enjoyed some authentic barbecue and chicken sandwiches that you can’t get anywhere else.

2010

With wins over Troy and Memphis, Ole Miss needed to beat Texas Tech in Oxford to go back to the only city in the world with stores that sell alcohol, toilet paper, and candy all in one place. Ole Miss beat Tech in two overtimes, the second of which featured this Terrico White dunk.

Ole Miss once again lost in the Final Four, this time to Dayton, 68-63.

2011

A first-round loss in Berkeley to Cal and the GOT DANG LIBERAL AGENDA.

2012

An overtime loss to Illinois State in the first round saw the Redbirds hit 17 threes because of course. Is that performance still a school record?

YOU KNOW IT.

2017

After defeating Monmouth in the first round, Ole Miss traveled to Syracuse to face the Orange and left the Carrier Dome with an 85-80 win, sending unhappy Syracuse fans to face the lake effect snow.

Ole Miss’ last NIT experience would end in the next round, with a loss to Georgia Tech in Oxford. However, backing up, someone has uploaded that game to YouTube for your consumption at any time.

I only mention this because we need to document DK in the Carrier Dome!