Jamie Dixon salutes crowd after TCU wins NIT championship in rout of Georgia Tech. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
NEW YORK -- One had been here before, another is in uncharted territory.
Georgia Tech faced TCU for the championship of the 80th National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden, but the matchup soon proved to be no contest. In a game where they never trailed, the Horned Frogs captured the title, overpowering the Yellow Jackets by the final of 88-56.
First five possessions:
TCU: Missed field goal, field goal, two free throws, field goal, field goal
Georgia Tech: Turnover, missed field goal, missed field goal, missed field goal, turnover
The 8-0 lead TCU took early reflected a pace in order for a mid-to-high-60-possession rate, a tempo both teams employ. The battle of big men, TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky and Ben Lammers of Georgia Tech, saw the TCU big man get the early upper hand, scoring his team’s first six points. Georgia Tech had a great night against CSU Bakersfield in the semifinals, committing just seven turnovers against a strong Roadrunner defense. On this night, Josh Pastner’s team had two miscues in their first five possessions.
TCU eventually scored the first ten points of the contest before Lammers hit Georgia Tech’s first field goal with 14:52 remaining in the first half. At the under-12-minute media timeout, the Horned Frogs were up 21-5. This was not just a case of a team getting out to a hot shooting start. TCU simply played with more energy and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.
Georgia Tech eventually mustered two breakaway dunks off turnovers. Those plays not only reduced the deficit, but more importantly, energize a Yellow Jacket team that needed a spark. Trailing 21-12, Pastner switched to a zone defense, occasionally trapping in half court out of the zone in an attempt to disrupt the TCU offense. For Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs, Brodziansky and 6-foot-8 JD Miller did their share of damage inside.
Halftime: TCU 38, Georgia Tech 27
Possessions: TCU 36, Georgia Tech 34
Offensive efficiency: TCU 106, Georgia Tech 79
At the 16-minute mark of the second half, TCU still enjoyed a ten-point lead. A few more stops were necessary for Georgia Tech to take full advantage of their scoring spurt. However, Kenrich Williams was the story in the half’s early going. The 6-foot-7 TCU junior finished the first half with eight points, and matched that total in the first four minutes after the intermission.
TCU did a good job not letting Georgia Tech go on a prolonged run. A few times, the Yellow Jackets were able to get the deficit to ten, but no better. TCU answered, with Brodziansky usually stopping the run with a timely bucket. The Horned Frogs were still up 16 with ten minutes to go, and held the Yellow Jackets scoreless for over for minutes shortly thereafter. During that time, the TCU lead expanded to 18. Josh Okogie had been effective for Georgia Tech, but had not had much help on a consistent basis. With just over five minutes remaining, TCU stretched their advantage to 25 points, putting on an offensive clinic.
Possessions: TCU 72, Georgia Tech 69
Offensive efficiency: TCU 122, Georgia Tech 81
Effective field goal percentage: TCU 55, Georgia Tech 41
Free throw rate: TCU 24, Georgia Tech 30
Offensive rebound percentage: TCU 47, Georgia Tech 30
Turnover rate: TCU 17, Georgia Tech 25
What TCU did well: Force turnovers and rebound. The Horned Frogs enjoyed a 28-4 edge in points off turnovers and 21-7 in second chance points.
What Georgia Tech did well: Get to the line. The Yellow Jackets were able to draw fouls, but could not capitalize, shooting 10-of-17 at the stripe.
Ball control index:
Georgia Tech: 0.94
Keys to Victory:
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner noted his team struggled to begin both halves. Most of those struggles were on the defensive end. Coming into the game, the Yellow Jackets’ defensive efficiency was 90. Tonight, the TCU efficiency told how tough it was on Georgia Tech’s defense. As Pastner said, “Tonight, we didn’t play well on defense and they were outstanding on offense.”
Rebounds and turnovers.
Georgia Tech gave up 16 offensive rebounds, and was outrebounded 44-30. As noted, the second chance points provided TCU with a substantial edge. “You cannot allow those second chance points and points off turnovers like that in a game of this level,” Pastner said.
As TCU coach Jamie Dixon noted, “Our team defended better the last seven games. We changed a few things, and our younger players just got better.”
Ready for zone.
Dixon does not see much zone defense in the Big 12. The TCU mentor practices zone offense religiously, and against Georgia Tech, a primary zone team, all the work paid off.
TCU finished 24-15, Georgia Tech 21-16.
Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech
Tadric Jackson, Georgia Tech
Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU
Alex Robinson, TCU
Most Outstanding Player: Kenrich Williams, TCU