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Delaware To Spend Thanksgiving In NYC

Nov 14, 2012, 4:24 PM EDT

Delaware's Devon Saddler

Congratulations to Delaware, which defeated host Virginia 59-53 on Tuesday night to advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament next week. The Blue Hens will meet Big 12 foe Kansas State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 (ESPNU) and then will get another nationally televised game on Friday against either Michigan or Pittsburgh. In addition, the Blue Hens will have front row seats from their hotel as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade passes by.

The NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament has been good to the CAA in recent years. Drexel advanced to Madison Square Garden in 2005 where it got to face Duke and UCLA and VCU reached the semifinals in 2010 when it took on Tennessee and UCLA.

Despite suffering a season-opening loss at La Salle to start the season, Delaware head coach Monte’ Ross felt good about his team heading into Charlottesville and his confidence was justified. In Monday’s first-round matchup with Penn, UD trailed 31-30 before breaking loose on a 32-7 run to take control. The Hens went on to an 84-69 victory.

The Blue Hens exhibited more toughness in Tuesday’s second round matchup with Virginia. Delaware pulled out to a 35-17 advantage with 16:55 remaining, but saw the Cavaliers roar back to grab a 42-41 lead nine minutes later. However, UD was able to respond with an 8-0 spurt that featured a pair of three-pointers from junior All-CAA guard Devon Saddler and never trailed after that. Saddler, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half, sealed the win with three free throws in the final seconds.

“No matter where we are playing or what situation we’re in, we feel like we can win the game,” said seventh-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “Good teams can withstand those runs, and our guys are ultra-tough and they really stepped up. It’s big to have the opportunity to play on a national stage like Madison Square Garden. I’m really happy for my guys, because they deserve it. It’s going to be exciting, but we are going up there to win.”

UD has relied mostly on a seven-man rotation thus far, but the group has provided great balance. Saddler is averaging a team-best 16.0 ppg, while sophomore backcourt mate Jarvis Threatt is scoring 14.3 ppg. Up front, senior Josh Brinkley is contributing 10.3 ppg and senior center Jamelle Hagins is averaging 9.3 ppg and 12.3 rpg and already has two double-doubles. Freshman guard Terrell Rogers (8.7 ppg) has provided a lift off the bench.

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