The semifinals of the 2017 National Invitation Tournament tipped off Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners will look to continue their Cinderella run against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who have put together a solid year in head coach Josh Pastner's first season.
In the second semifinal, the TCU Horned Frogs will face off with the UCF Knights. Neither school has ever won the NIT, with the Knights appearing for only the second time at the event.
Below is a brief recap of Tuesday's two games.
|Tuesday, March 28|
|No. 8 CSU Bakersfield vs. No. 6 Georgia Tech||76-61, Georgia Tech|
|No. 4 TCU vs. No. 4 UCF||68-53, TCU|
|Thursday, March 30|
|Matchup||Time (ET)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|No. 6 Georgia Tech vs. No. 4 TCU||8 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
Full bracket available at NCAA.com.
Georgia Tech 76, CSU Bakersfield 61
The Yellow Jackets pulled away late in the second half to book a place in the NIT final. Georgia Tech built a 36-26 halftime lead and kept CSU Bakersfield at bay in the second half en route to a 76-61 win.
The ACC celebrated the victory:
Josh Okogie was the game's leading scorer. The freshman guard scored 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting. He was a rebound short of a double-double after collecting nine boards.
Ben Lammers did notch a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). He also blocked five shots, illustrating his dominance inside against the Roadrunners.
Efficient offense was a big reason CSU Bakersfield reached the semifinal. Against Georgia Tech, the Roadrunners couldn't get into a groove. They shot 35.0 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from three-point range. They turned the ball over 15 times as well.
Whether they ultimately win the NIT or not, the Yellow Jackets are set up for big things in 2017-18 if they can keep the current squad together. Okogie is only a freshman, while Lammers and Tadric Jackson, the team's third-leading scorer, are both juniors.
The experience Georgia Tech has received from making a deep run in the NIT will be invaluable when it looks to make a big jump next year.
TCU 68, UCF 53
The Horned Frogs were too much for the Knights after jumping out to an early second-half lead. TCU advanced to the final with a 68-53 win.
UCF led 31-29 at halftime. The Horned Frogs then opened the second half on a 16-3 run over the first four minutes, 16 seconds. TCU never led by fewer than seven points the rest of the way as the Knights struggled to recover from the outburst.
Tacko Fall dealt with foul trouble for much of the night, which was a big problem for UCF. The sophomore center finished with seven points, five rebounds and six blocks, but Knights head coach Johnny Dawkins had to stagger his minutes so as not risk him fouling out.
TCU also did a great job of defending UCF's two best scorers, Matt Williams and B.J. Taylor. Williams and Taylor combined to shoot 9-of-32 for 25 points.
Vladimir Brodziansky led the Horned Frogs on the offensive end with 18 points, and Kenrich Williams posted a double-double (14 points, 14 rebounds).
Like Georgia Tech, TCU is a program on the rise. Hiring Jamie Dixon was a shrewd move for the Horned Frogs, and Dixon proved his tactical acumen by leading the team to the NIT final. And with Brodziansky, Williams and Alex Robinson potentially returning for 2017-18, anything short of a return to the NCAA tournament will likely be a disappointment.