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MARCH MADNESS / NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT

Pepperdine Opens Against Wyoming

March 14, 2001|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pepperdine, a school used to playing at this time of the year, begins play today in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

The Waves, making their third consecutive postseason appearance and sixth in the NIT, tip off at 6 p.m. PST at Wyoming.

Other games tonight are South Carolina (15-14) at Connecticut (19-11), North Carolina Wilmington (19-10) at Dayton (19-12), St. Bonaventure (18-11) at Pittsburgh (18-13), Illinois State (21-8) at Purdue (15-14), Southern Mississippi (22-8) at Mississippi State (16-12), Detroit (22-10) at Bradley (19-11), Miami (16-12) at Auburn (17-13), McNeese State (22-8) at Texas El Paso (22-8), Villanova (18-12) at Minnesota (17-13), and Baylor (19-11) at New Mexico (19-12).

South Alabama (22-10) plays Toledo (21-10) on Thursday and West Virginia (17-11) is at Richmond (21-6) Friday.

Wyoming's 8,000-seat Arena-Auditorium is known as the Dome of Doom because of its altitude (7,220 feet) and Wyoming's rabid following. It's difficult for flatlanders like the Waves to catch their breath and it's tough to hear. The Cowboys (20-9) have lost only one home game this season.

"Wyoming is a talented ball club and they will be a difficult team to beat on the road," Pepperdine Coach Jan van Breda Kolff said.

Wyoming is led by sophomore guard Marcus Bailey, who averages 17.6 points a game. Junior forward Josh Davis averages 13.3 points and 9.4 rebounds, and sophomore center Uche Nsonwu-Amadi averages 11 points.

The Waves, who forced opponents into 19 turnovers a game, figure to press the Cowboys at some point, but they have to careful not to tire themselves in the thin air.

"Our style of play is difficult to prepare for in a short time period," Van Breda Kolff said.

Pepperdine is led by junior guard Brandon Armstrong, who averages 21.7 points.

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