NEW YORK — In the culmination of the National Invitational Tournament, Madison Square Garden played host to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (21-15) and the TCU Horned Frogs (23-15). Despite being a championship game, the competitiveness of the game was almost non-existent, as an onslaught of three-pointers and dunks led to a 32-point blowout.
Right from the start, Jamie Dixon’s men jumped out to a commanding lead by starting the game out on a 20-3 run in the first 6:38 of the competition, leaving Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner in a state of Deja Vu.
“Well, they jumped on us early,” said Pastner. “We’ve been talking about our starts, and we’ve had great starts here in this run of the NIT. The last time we had a poor start was in the ACC Tournament versus Pittsburgh. They jumped on us, and since then, we had four great starts in.”
Paster was spot on as TCU indeed jumped on Georgia Tech in the first half and carried a 38-27 lead into halftime. Even after halftime, an eerily similar second half ensued, and the Horned Frogs extended their lead en route to an 88-56 victory.
For Jamie Dixon, winning the first NIT Tournament in school history and having a winning season after going 0-18 in conference play just a year ago makes the victory even sweeter. In the post-game press conference, Dixon wasn’t hesitant to show his thanks to his players who have stuck it out at TCU in an attempt to build a program.
“They have committed to it (the program), and they have sacrificed, and you know, you need your seniors, and when you come to a program, it’s hard,” said Dixon.” “And they have been — they have had a different coach, obviously challenges, and they had to buy in for us to be successful.”
Notably for TCU, star forward Kenrich Williams dropped his second straight double-double by putting up 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead TCU again, earning endless praise from coach Dixon.
“So you’re seeing the numbers that he’s putting up,” posed Dixon. “His play down the stretch here has been unbelievable.”
Without a doubt, TCU deservedly took home the NIT crown on Thursday night as they shot 51.5% from the field, forced 17 turnovers, and held Georgia Tech to a low 35.7% shooting percentage. But even with a trophy to conclude the year, Jamie Dixon still has his sights set on a NCAA Tournament appearance.
“You know, I mean, as I said earlier, our goal is to get in the NCAA Tournament, go on runs in the NCAA Tournament. That’s what I’m used to doing. That’s always been our goal,” said Dixon. “But I guess you have to take steps, and this is a huge step.”
In a brief overview, both Georgia Tech and TCU can hold their heads high heading into the offseason. Both teams were destined to fail this season, but both Pastner and Dixon have done a phenomenal job in starting to turn around a program, “a modern miracle” according to Pastner.
Unfortunately for fans, this NIT Tournament did not bring us excitement as we hoped at The Garden. Games were not competitive and were lopsided in score. In a glimmer of hope, however, the game did end with an emphatic windmill slam by TCU guard Josh Parrish, maybe foreshadowing a more exciting tournament in a year’s time.
Or, maybe not.