Lipscomb vs Texas
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
NEW YORK – Texas used a dominating defensive effort to advance to Thursday’s NIT championship game. The Longhorns will need another to slow hot-shooting guard Garrison Mathews and upstart Lipscomb at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
In Tuesday’s semifinals, Texas was up against TCU, a Big 12 Conference rival which had swept both regular-season meetings. But coach Shaka Smart’s Longhorns clamped down defensively, limiting the Horned Frogs to a season-low 44 points on 28.3-percent shooting while forcing 11 turnovers and allowing only seven assists. Paired with a combined 35 points from seniors Kerwin Roach and Dylan Osetkowski, it was more than enough for a 14-point win which sends Texas to its first NIT title game since its 1978 championship season.
In Tuesday’s first semifinal, The Bisons used a game-high 34 points from Mathews and a contest-ending 21-3 run to beat Wichita State 71-64 and become the first Atlantic Sun Conference team to reach the title game.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT LIPSCOMB (29-7): Mathews, a 6-5 guard, has the put the Nashville private liberal arts school on the college hoops map, averaging 28.8 points and 7.8 rebounds during the Bisons’ four NIT wins – all away from home. Mathews, who averages a team-leading 21.1 points on the season, has been particularly deadly- from 3-point range (13-of-28) and at the free-throw stripe (19-of-23) over his last two games while totaling 78 points in 76 minutes. Forward Rob Marberry (14.7 points) and guard Kenny Cooper (10.0, team-leading 4.5 assists) also average double figures for Lipscomb, which averages 83.4 points while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 75.5 percent from the free-throw line.
ABOUT TEXAS (20-16): The Longhorns’ rout of TCU was its first NIT win outside of Austin after entering the postseason with a 16-16 record and five losses in its final six regular-season/Big 12 Tournament contests. Texas has done so without Big 12 Freshman of the Year and projected NBA Draft lottery pick Jaxson Hayes, who suffered a deep knee bone bruise in the Big 12 tourney quarterfinals, but Roach and Osetkowski have more than picked up the slack, averaging a combined 32.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the NIT. Freshman guard Courtney Ramey had averaged 13.7 points in the Longhorns’ first three NIT wins, but will be trying to bounce back from a scoreless, 0-for-6 shooting outing versus TCU although he dished out eight assists.
1. Texas has dominated both its previous meetings with Lipscomb, with the most recent being an 80-57 home win on Nov. 18, 2017, as the Longhorns forced 17 turnovers and limited the Bisons to 29.3-percent shooting. Mathews had 17 points and Roach had 16 to pace their respective teams.
2. Lipscomb will be playing in the second postseason championship game in program history, joining its 1986 NAIA national championship squad.
3. Texas is 10-3 all-time in the NIT, including a 3-0 mark in Madison Square Garden.