NIT S Dakota Iowa Basketball

Iowa forward Nicholas Baer, right, tries to steal the ball from South Dakota guard Carlton Hurst during the second half Wednesday night in the opening round of the NIT.

AP

There’s just something about the National Invitation Tournament that resonates with Iowa basketball fans.

Despite having only a couple of days to sell tickets, the Hawkeyes drew a crowd of 12,864 for their 87-75 victory over South Dakota in their NIT opener on Wednesday night.

That was nearly double what any of the other first-round NIT games attracted. The second largest crowd was 7,247 for BYU’s home game with Texas-Arlington in Provo, Utah. The average for the 15 NIT openers other than Iowa was 3,793.

Iowa will host TCU in the second round Sunday at 4 p.m. The game originally was announced to have a 6:30 start, but NIT officials changed it Thursday. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Tickets, priced at $20 for adults and $5 for children, went on sale Thursday. They are available during normal business hours at the athletic ticket office at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, by phone at 800-IA-HAWKS or online at hawkeyesports.com/tickets.

Drawing big crowds for NIT games isn’t anything new for Iowa. The last time it played in the tournament, in 2013, it sold out home games against Indiana State and Stony Brook.

So head coach Fran McCaffery wasn’t surprised to see another large throng Wednesday, even with the students on spring break.

“Just very thankful,’’ McCaffery said. “I know the players and the coaches really appreciate that kind of support. That was an unbelievable atmosphere in here tonight, and we're very thankful.’’

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