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Pioneers miss out on NIT

The Sports Xchange
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--Denver's 22-win season was one to remember for the Pioneers in their final season in the Sun Belt Conferenece, but it didn't result in postseason play beyond the Sun Belt tournament. The NIT passed over the Pioneers, and the school elected not to participate in the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

"We are disappointed that we will not be participating in the NIT," coach Joe Scott said in a statement. "We went 10-3 against one of the hardest nonconference schedules in team history, and we beat three NCAA Tournament teams."

Denver defeated Western Kentucky, Saint Mary's and Southern Miss.

--North Texas' Tony Mitchell made a big splash this season as a redshirt freshman, averaging 14.6 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. He sat out the first semester after transferring from Missouri, but made his case as the most dominant player in the league. Now the question is this -- will he stay or turn professional? The website NBADraft.net has the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Mitchell projected as the No. 21 pick in the first round. Mitchell may be raw, but possesses all the tools NBA scouts love.

--Middle Tennessee swept the two biggest league honors, but it ended up not mattering when the Blue Raiders lost in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament to Arkansas State. MTSU went 25-6, 14-2 in conference play, and Kermit Davis won Coach of the Year Honors while LaRon Dendy, a senior forward, was the league's Player of the Year.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
16.4 -- Points per game scored by FIU's DeJuan Wright to lead the conference in scoring; 14.3 -- Points per game by FAU's Greg Gantt, the highest scoring average by someone left off the all-conference team; 4 -- Victories in the Sun Belt Tournament where Western Kentucky had to overcome second-half deficits to win and reach the NCAA Tournament; 31 -- Percentage shooting from behind the 3-point arc for WKU, which could be a downfall in a tournament setting.

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