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NIT: TCU routs Georgia Tech for the title

March 31, 2017 Columns No Comments

NEW YORK – This one was supposed to be a toss up. It never happened.

TCU led from tip to buzzer, fully dismantling Georgia Tech 88-56 to capture the championship of the 80th NIT. Jamie Dixon had his share of special moments at Madison Square Garden during his days at Pitt. Leading his alma mater to the title on the “big stage” was undoubtedly his best.

TCU finished up the season 24-15, winning seven of their last eight. Georgia Tech ended at 21-16.

The points of emphasis:

TCU’s Kenrich Williams was named the NIT’s MOP and got to pose with the trophy and some cheerleaders (Ray Floriani photo)

1. Great start. TCU scored the game’s first ten points and never looked back. It was a game where, Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner noted, “we did not play well and TCU played great.” Coming into the game Georgia Tech was allowing a 90 efficiency on the defensive end. On this night TCU rang up a superlative 122. Case closed.

2. Turnovers and second chance points. Georgia Tech had a great showing against a Cal St. Bakersfield team known for forcing turnovers. Tech had just seven for a great 10 percent TO rate in that win. Against TCU they had 17 turnovers, a 25 percent rate, and most damaging was that TCU enjoyed a 28-4 edge in points off turnovers. Under the glass TCU had 16 offensive boards, out-rebounded the Yellow Jackets 44-30 and led 21-7 in second-chance points. A lot of those second-chance points stopped any chance of Georgia Tech putting together a successful run. “You cannot give up points off turnovers and second-chance points in a game of this level and hope to win,” Pastner said.

3. TCU defense. While the Horned Frogs entered the game with a 114 offensive efficiency, on the defensive end, they are not too shabby especially of late. TCU held Georgia Tech to an 81 efficiency, which was outstanding and not a total surprise to Dixon. “Our last seven games, our defense has improved and gotten better each time out,” Dixon said. “We made a few technical adjustments and our younger players have gotten better as the season progressed. We are playing great of late. I wish we had a few more games left.”

4. Zone preparation. Most of the Big 12 is man-to-man defensively. Throughout the season, though, Dixon made sure his team was drilled in zone offense. It paid off against Georgia Tech, a primarily zone team.

5. Contributions. Georgia Tech’s lone offensive threat was Tadric Jackson with 19 points. Threats such as Josh Okogie (12) and Ben Lammers (8) could never get it going. TCU placed three in double digits, led by tournament MOP Kenrich Williams with a 25-point, 12-rebound double-double. Vlad Brodzianky, another All-Tournament choice, scored 18 points while doing a good job defending Tech’s Lammers down low. Alex Robinson, also All-Tournament, scored 10 points. Robinson did have six turnovers offset by a game-high 11 assists.

A year ago TCU was 12-21 and 2-16 in the Big 12. At the end of 12 months, it was “rags to riches”. Today, they are reigning NIT champions.

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