NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Parrish sat at the podium, wearing a commemorative t-shirt and a net draped around his neck. To his right was coach Jamie Dixon. On his left was Kenrich Williams.
Parrish made sure to savor the moment.
“We have something that’s forever,” he said. “Nobody can ever take this away from us.”
Williams had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and TCU routed Georgia Tech 88-56 in the NIT championship on Thursday night. The junior guard, who missed last season because of a knee injury, went 8 for 14 from the field and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“We knew he was a good player,” Dixon said. “We’ve found better ways to use him in even better situations where we’re even more comfortable and to be honest, he was out of about a year and a half. He’s just now getting his legs under him and getting game-like conditions. You’re seeing the numbers that he’s putting up. His play down the stretch has been unbelievable.”
TCU opened with a 20-3 run on its way to the program’s first NIT title. Vlad Brodziansky scored 18 points for the Horned Frogs (24-15), and Alex Robinson had 10 points and 11 assists.
Tadric Jackson led Georgia Tech (21-16) with 19 points. Josh Okogie had 12 points and six rebounds.
“We played to the last buzzer,” Georgia Tech senior Quinton Stephens said.
“We stuck together. We stayed with the way we need to play.
“It was bigger than us. We knew bigger things were coming and this is only the beginning.”
It was the first meeting between the programs since Dec. 21, 1967, and No. 3 overall. And it mostly belonged to TCU, which never trailed.
The Horned Frogs led 38-27 at halftime, and it was more of the same in the second half. Williams and Brodziansky threw down thunderous dunks, and Williams knocked down a 3 to help push the advantage to 54-39.
“They punched us first,” Stephens said. “We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.”
TCU shot 51 percent (35 for 68) from the field and held Georgia Tech to 35.7 percent (20 for 56) shooting. The Yellow Jackets also committed 17 turnovers, leading to 28 points for TCU, and the Horned Frogs also had 21 second-chance points.
“In a high-level game you can’t do that,” said Josh Pastner, who took over as Georgia Tech’s coach last April. “We had too many turnovers and they gave up too many second chances.”
The lead grew to 69-49 on Williams’ breakaway jam with 6:44 left. Desmond Bane tacked on a 3 from in front of the TCU bench, helping kick off the celebration for the Horned Frogs.
Dixon emptied his bench in the final minutes, and reserve Josh Parrish had a breakaway windmill jam in the final seconds.
“I’ve always known my brother was so bouncy,” Brandon Parrish said with a laugh. “To be able to see him come off the bench after 39 minutes and be able to jump up there and do a windmill, it was just phenomenal for us to be able to share this moment.”
The 32-point win matches the largest margin of victory in NIT championship game history. Bradley set the record in 1964 with an 86-54 rout of New Mexico.
Georgia Tech: Despite the loss, it was a successful season for the Yellow Jackets. A program Pastner referred to as a “major rebuild job” as recently as Tuesday won 21 games and competed in a national postseason tournament. “I promise you,” Pastner said after the game. “To be playing in this final game, it’s miraculous.”
TCU: Dixon improved to 28-15 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
The Yellow Jackets did not have a field goal until Ben Lammers’ jumper 5:03 into the game. Prior to Lammers’ basket, Georgia Tech was 0 for 6 from the field and had committed four turnovers.
“We dug ourselves a hole and we totally were trying to climb out of it the entire evening,” Pastner said. “It just made it hard on us and we just could never really get over that hump or get it close enough.”