Texas Christian vs Central Florida
When: 9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special Preview by Sports Direct) – TCU coach Jamie Dixon has plenty of experience on the sidelines at Madison Square Garden, something he hopes can help his Horned Frogs when they take on Central Florida in the semifinals of the NIT on Tuesday in New York. “We’ve done this a lot, been to New York a bunch,” Dixon – who coached 41 games at the arena while at Pittsburgh – told reporters. “It’s a special place in March. There’s no other place I’d rather be.”
Dixon’s fourth-seeded crew earned the trip to its first ever NIT semifinal with an 86-68 win over Richmond last week and it has won five of six since ending the regular season with seven consecutive losses. Junior guard Kenrich Williams recorded the first triple-double in TCU history with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the win over the Spiders, and he is averaging 14.2 points and 10.2 boards in six postseason games. The Knights, also seeded fourth, have survived three close affairs to reach the semis, including a 68-58 win at home over Illinois. Sophomore guard B.J. Taylor scored 17 points and one of the nation’s top defenses limited the Fighting Illini to 30.6 percent from the field.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT TCU (22-15): Junior forward Vladimir Brodziansky scored 20 points versus Richmond after recording 19 in an overtime win at Iowa in the previous round. Sophomore guard Alex Robinson ranks second to Brodziansky in scoring with an 11.4 average and he is posting seven assists per game since the regular season came to a close. Guard Desmond Bane has consecutive 13-point games to help pick up the slack from when fellow freshman Jaylen Fisher was lost for the season to a wrist injury in the opening round against Fresno State.
ABOUT UCF (24-11): One-time Duke star and former Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins has led the Knights this far in his first season at the helm, one that began with few expectations for a program that was expected to be rebuilding. “Our belief has been in these players from Day 1,” Dawkins told the media. “I think, as we started to play and started to gain some momentum, I think they started realizing what we can accomplish, and they kept working.” Taylor leads the way with 17.6 points per game while senior guard Matt Williams (15.1) is a steady contributor and 7-6 sophomore Tacko Fall (11.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) is a force in the paint, although he has scored in double figures just three times in the last 11 contests.
1. UCF is fifth nationally in scoring defense (61.0).
2. This marks the first meeting between the programs, although Dixon coached Pittsburgh past UCF in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
3. The winner takes on either Georgia Tech or Cal State Bakersfield in the title game Thursday night.