Longhorns head to NIT for first time in 33 years

Shaka Smart Longhorns at West Virginia

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Missing from the NCAA Tournament, Texas has been relegated to the National Invitation Tournament, known as the NIT.

The Longhorns are playing in the NIT for the first time since 1986. Texas is the no. 2 seed in Alabama’s bracket and will host no. 7 South Dakota State in the first round Tuesday 8 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

The winner will face the winner of Xavier and Toledo. If the Longhorns beat the Jackrabbits, Texas would host the second round match up in Austin later this week.

Shaka Smart announced freshman center Jaxson Hayes will not play Tuesday. He’s still being evaluated and will have an MRI after he knocked knees with a Kansas player late in the Big 12 tournament game last week.

Texas (16-16, 8-10 in Big 12) was in contention for a NCAA Tournament bid heading into the final weeks of the season, but fell apart with five losses in its final six games. Leading scorer Kerwin Roach missed the final five games of the regular season.

The loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals sealed the Longhorns fate outside of the tournament bubble. Despite support from some of the national media, Texas wouldn’t become the first team to reach the tournament with a .500 overall record.

In his fourth season at Texas, Shaka Smart’s team misses the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years.

The NIT is a five round tournament. The semifinals and finals are played in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

South Dakota State won the Summit League’s regular season title, but got upset in the conference tournament. Senior Mike Daum is the ninth leading scorer in NCAA Division 1 history, and could possible be playing his final college game.

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