Georgia Tech vs Texas Christian
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 30, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Special to Digital Sports Desk by SportsDirect Inc.
NEW YORK – Georgia Tech and TCU put their respective late-season slumps in the rear-view mirror and have a shot at postseason glory when they meet in the NIT title game Thursday in Madison Square Garden in New York. Both squads entertained thoughts of reaching the NCAA Tournament before struggling down the stretch and getting knocked off the bubble, but they’ve showed plenty of fight in racing to the championship game of this event.
“Playing in the NIT, we were excited,” Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner told reporters after Tuesday’s 76-61 semifinal win over Cal State Bakersfield. “We wanted to keep playing. This is important for our program.” The Horned Frogs had perhaps a more difficult turnaround after dropping their final seven games of the regular season, but they are 6-1 ever since after knocking off Central Florida 68-53 in the other semifinal game. Vladimir Brodziansky led the way with 18 points in 22 minutes as TCU advanced to the NIT championship for the first time. Georgia Tech, which was a runner-up in this event in 1971, has won the only two prior meetings with the Horned Frogs, although the programs have not met since 1967.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (21-15): Freshman guard and leading scorer Josh Okogie scored 22 points in the semis and he is averaging 21.8 to go along with 7.8 rebounds in the tournament. “We definitely had great preparation prior to this game,” he told the media. “We had a couple great practices and a great shootaround on being ball tough. I think we did a good job of transitioning that into the game.” Junior center Ben Lammers has three double-doubles in the NIT after producing 15 points and 11 boards versus Bakersfield, while senior forward Quinton Stephens has posted 15.5 points per game – five more than his season average.
ABOUT TCU (23-15): Coach Jamie Dixon is 27-15 at Madison Square Garden and is no stranger to title games at the arena, having guided Pittsburgh to the Big East championship in 2008, and he can thank Brodziansky and junior guard Kenrich Williams for a return trip. “I thought Kenrich was terrific the second half,” Dixon told reporters after Williams produced 12 of his 14 points after halftime Tuesday night. “He just kind of took over, passing, finishing, offensive rebounding, and you know, that’s pretty big. Just let him go do his thing.” Williams has a double-double in each of the four NIT games and 18 on the season, while Brodziansky is averaging 19 points and shooting 60 percent over the last three rounds.
1. Georgia Tech has held five straight opponents to under 40 percent from the floor.
2. Horned Frogs G Alex Robinson shot 2-for-10 against UCF but handed out six assists and has at least five in nine consecutive contests.
3. Lammers has 13 blocks in the last two games and 18 for the tournament.