Kerwin Roach came off the bench to score a game-high 22 points Tuesday night and Texas’ defense did the rest as it avenged two regular-season losses to Big 12 Conference rival TCU with a 58-44 win in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The second-seeded Longhorns (20-16) will meet fifth-seeded Lipscomb on Thursday night for the championship. The Bisons rallied from an eight-point deficit in the last six minutes to dump Wichita State 71-64 in Tuesday night’s first semifinal.
Garrison Mathews pumped in 34 points for Lipscomb, including the tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:07 left. Mathews, who scored 44 points in an NIT quarterfinal win at N.C. State, and the high-powered Bisons could have their hands full with the Texas defense.
After stifling Colorado on Wednesday night in a quarterfinal rout, the Longhorns were in shutdown mode again against their in-state rivals. They established a 31-17 halftime lead, holding the top-seeded Horned Frogs (23-14) to their lowest first-half point total of the year.
Desmond Bane’s jumper with 9:08 left in the first half drew TCU within 16-14, but it managed just one field goal after that, a Kendric Davis lane jumper at the 5:13 mark. The Horned Frogs experienced four scoring droughts of at least three minutes in the half.
Meanwhile, Roach and Texas did just enough offensively to establish a working margin that held up over the second half. His consecutive layups gave it a 29-16 advantage with 2:14 remaining, and TCU spent the game’s remainder chasing to no avail.
The Horned Frogs closed within 38-33 with 11:24 left in the game when Kouat Noi stuck back RJ Nembhard’s missed 3-pointer, but Roach and Dylan Osetkowski combined for the next six points. That gave the Longhorns a 44-33 lead with 7:19 remaining.
Osetkowski added 13 for Texas, which won despite hitting only 42.6 percent from the field.
Alex Robinson scored 12 points in his final college game for TCU, which was shooting for its second NIT title in three years. Bane tallied 11.
—Field Level Media