The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets historic and unexpected 2016-17 season came to an end on Thursday night in the NIT Championship game with an 88-56 loss to TCU.
From the start of the game, it was clear that the Yellow Jackets magic in their NIT run ran out. On Thursday night, TCU made sure that there was no other way that the NIT was going to end than the Horned Frogs taking home the NIT Crown.
Within in the first five minutes of the game, the Jackets found themselves in a 15-point hole, down 16-1. Despite outscoring TCU 27-22 in the last fifteen minutes of the first half, the Jackets never seemed to truly be in the game.
In the second half, the Jackets tried to claw back into the game but TCU came out stronger than even in the first half and put up 50 points. All five of their three-pointers also came in the second half while they also punished the Jackets inside the paint.
Despite shooting strong from beyond the arch throughout the night hitting 46% of their three-pointers, the Jackets struggled to make the easy shots, a common problem throughout the season. Overall, the Jackets shot 32% from the field when not counting three-pointers.
Thursday night’s loss also saw the return of the Jackets turnover and free throw woes that plagued them at times throughout the regular season. On Thursday, the Jackets turned over the ball 17 times after keeping the number relatively low throughout the NIT Tournament. From the charity strike, the Jackets shot 58.8% making 10-of-17 free throw attempts, a percentage that must improve in the 2017-18 season.
With all that being said, the Jackets may not have stood a chance when considering how strong TCU shot from the field in the Horned Frogs 88-56 win. The Horned Frogs made 35 of their 68 total shots including 5-of-15 three-pointers.
TCU juniors Vladimir Brodziansky and Kenrich Williams dominated the Jackets throughout Thursday night making eight shots each and scoring a combined 43 points. Williams also finished with 12 rebounds for a double-double, just two games after collecting a triple-double.
Sophomore guard Alex Robinson also collected a double-double for the Horned Frogs scoring ten points while also collecting a total of 11 assists, tying his season high.
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For the Yellow Jackets, junior Tadric Jackson lead the way scoring 19 points while Josh Okogie was the only other Yellow Jacket to put up double-digit points.
Center Ben Lammers struggled from the field on Thursday night shooting 1-for-11 from the field. All other six points came from the charity strike where he was six-for-six. If the game proved anything it showed how the Lammers was the ultimate x-factor for the Yellow Jackets this season and his impact on the court going into his senior season.
For the Yellow Jackets, it’s a bittersweet ending to a season that nobody expected. It saw a team that was projected to win no ACC games win eight and stay in the NCAA Tournament picture for most of the season. After missing the NCAA tournament, the Jackets followed up their strong regular season with a magical NIT run that saw them beat Indiana, Belmont, Ole Miss, and Cal State Bakerfield in four of their best games of the entire season.
Thursday’s game also marked the last time Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, and Quinton Stephens wore the Georgia Tech uniform. The Jackets should head into the offseason with their heads up after becoming the story of college basketball in the 2016-17 season as they have an exrtremely bright future.