March 17, 2015

RUSTON, La. (AP) Raheem Appleby scored 22 points and Jacobi Boykins added 18 as Louisiana Tech beat Central Michigan 89-79 in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night.

Appleby led Louisiana Tech (26-8) to its third consecutive NIT opening round win. The senior trio of Appleby, Michale Kyser and Kenneth Smith won their 100th game, the most of any senior class in school history while head coach Mike White, in his fourth season, also claimed his 100th victory.

Central Michigan (23-9), which has never won a game in the NIT, made its first postseason appearance since 2003. The Chippewas made 6 of 23 3-pointers (43.8 percent) after averaging 10.2 per game.

''I don't think you have to look much further,'' Central Michigan coach Keno Davis said of his team's struggles from behind the arc.

Louisiana Tech shot a season-best 57 percent from the field (33 of 58) and 58 percent from distance (11 of 19).

''The key to the game for us was defending the 3,'' White said. ''We did a very good job defending the 3 and we kept their (3-point) specialists which gave us a chance. And then offensively we were in a pretty good rhythm all game.''

The Bulldogs won their 30th straight game at home in front of the school's eighth-largest all-time crowd of 6,904. The home winning streak is the fourth-longest active streak in the country.

Central Michigan was led by Chris Fowler's 21 points while Braylon Rayson added 20 and Rayshawn Simmons had 18.

The Bulldogs dominated with depth as a season-high 43 points came off the bench while the Chippewa bench scored 10.

''I'm mad at our freshman for not performing like that all year,'' White joked. ''That was as well as we have played offensively all year and one of our better games in its entirety this season.''

The game featured an experimental 30-second shot clock which is being tested throughout the NIT this year.

''I didn't think I would notice the difference but even in a game that was up-tempo, I think I noticed it,'' Davis said. ''I think it would be a good move for college basketball. You would see more scoring, I think it would be a little more fan-friendly and I don't think it would take away from the strategic side. If anything, it might add some more strategy for coaches in how they are going to handle that clock.''

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TIP-INS

Central Michigan: This was Central Michigan's first NIT appearance since falling to Purdue 97-80 in 1979.

Louisiana Tech: Louisiana Tech has won 49 of its last 60 home games dating back to February 2012 which is the best home winning percentage in the nation during that span. The Bulldogs are now 5-0 all-time at home in NIT games.

UP NEXT:

Central Michigan: Season complete.

Louisiana Tech: Advances to face Texas A&M in the second round.

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