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March 12, 2006

Columbia, SC – With the NIT pairings announced Sunday evening (March 12) SEC Tournament runner-up South Carolina, the No. 3 seed in South Region, will host No. 6 seed Western Kentucky in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament in the Colonial Center. The winner of South Carolina-Western Kentucky will play the winner of the Florida State (No. 2 seed) vs. Miami, OH (No. 7 seed) /Butler winner (No. 8 seed).

South Carolina, 18-15 and 6-10 in the SEC, will host the Hilltoppers, 23-7 and 12-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, on Wed., March 15 at 7 pm in the Colonial Center. The reserved tickets for the first round game will go on sale at on Monday, March 13 at 9 am at the Colonial Center or online at The lower bowl will be $18 and the upper bowl will be $10. Student tickets will be $4.

“Our team played really hard and really well at the SEC Tournament. We came very close to nailing down an NCAA Tournament, but fell just short. I hope that our fans will respond as our team did in Nashville. Our team gave everything they had and I am confident they will continue to do so as we begin play in the NIT,” said USC Head Coach Dave Odom.

South Carolina defeated Mississippi State, No. 14 Tennessee and Kentucky on the way to the SEC Tournament Championship game, falling just short at 49-47 to No. 16 Florida. Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida all made the NCAA Tournament as well as Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. USC had a 5-7 record against those six this season.

WKU, coached by Darrin Horn, lost 70-95 to South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference final last week. Anthony Winchester’s 18.5 ppg and Courtney Lee’s 17.4 ppg and a team-leading 6.3 rpg lead the Hilltoppers.

South Carolina won the NIT last year with a 60-57 win over St. Joseph’s in Madison Square Garden.

The No. 1 seed in the South Region is Cincinnati and the No. 4 seed is Minnesota. If South Carolina were to play the No. 1 seed the two would meet in the quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semi-finals of the NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden.