The 2012 NIT Tournament has been filled with close games and drama, but the Illinois St. Redbirds will no longer be a part of the action. In the first round of the NIT, the Redbirds edged the Ole Miss Rebels in a 96-93 overtime slugfest, but in the second round they ran out of magic as the Stanford Cardinal claimed a 92-88 win in yet another overtime contest.
For such a close game, there were more than enough runs to swing the balance. Illinois St. ripped off a 21-5 stretch fueled by hot shooting from Tyler Brown (23 points on 7-10 shooting and 5-5 from beyond the arc) to take a double-digit lead in the second half, but Stanford used a 14-3 run of their own to tie the score and get a chance to win the game in regulation.
After Stanford missed that opportunity to win in regulation on a jumper from Chasson Randle (19 points on 6-14 shooting and 4-7 from three), they shifted the focus back to Aaron Bright and Dwight Powell in overtime. Both players had wonderful performances in the win. Bright led all scorers with 29 points and Powell added 18, but their efficiency is what made the difference. In combination, that duo shot 19-24 from the field (79.2 percent) and made the difference in the game.
It was a sad exit for Illinois St., as Jackie Carmichael (21 points, 12 rebounds), Tyler Brown (23 points) and Nic Moore (25 points) all played well enough to win under most circumstances, just not on this abnormal occasion.