TCU guard Brandon Parrish lifts the NIT Championship trophy up to celebrate TCU's 88-56 victory over Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com.
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The Horned Frogs bolted out of the gates as soon as they won the tipoff at Madison Square Garden in New York City Thursday night. The Frogs started the game with a 20-3 run en route to an 88-56 victory and a National Invitational Tournament title against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The win gave TCU its first postseason tournament title.

TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky set the tone early, scoring the game’s first basket on a midrange jumper from the left elbow and then blocking center Ben Lammers, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and second-leading scorer, on the other end to force a turnover. Brodziansky finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds.

Five minutes passed before the Yellow Jackets were able to hit on a shot from the field, by which time the Horned Frogs already built a 13 point lead, 16-3.

“No question, our defense led to our offense, and that’s what we want to be,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We got turnovers; we got stops; we got transition the other way, and we’ve been pretty good in transition, and we’re getting better at it, but the defense starts, no question.”

With just under 12 minutes left in the first half, Georgia Tech began to mount a climb back into the game, scoring ten consecutive points and trimming TCU’s lead to just 21-15.

But, the Horned Frogs countered the run with an emphatic JD Miller and-one layup and an Alex Robinson Jr. floater in the one to push the TCU back up 11, 26-15, with 6:26 left in the first half.

TCU was up 38-27 at halftime and led the Yellow Jackets in nearly every statistic after the first 20 minutes except for three-point shooting.

The Horned Frogs went on another commanding 17-0 run from the 11:17 mark until only 2:24 remained to take a 30-point lead, 79-49. The surge was led by guard Kenrich Williams who scored seven of TCU’s 14 points with a three-pointer, a midrange jumper and a dunk during a stretch that would put the game out of reach for Georgia Tech.

Williams was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after totaling 25 points and 23 rebounds against Georgia Tech for his 19th double-double of the season.

TCU senior guard Brandon Parrish, who holds the program’s record for career games played with 136 games, said he was amazed with Williams’ performance throughout the season.

“This whole season Kenrich has been phenomenal, and the fact that he had to sit out last year with a hurt knee and to see how hungry he was this season, he just laid it all on the line for us each and every day,” Parrish said. “I’ve never seen a player like him.”

Williams said the win meant a lot for the future of the program.

“This is huge for us, and this is huge for our program and our school,” Williams said. “I think people are starting to realize that our basketball team is on the map, certainly by winning this tournament, and even next year, I think we’ll be even better.”

The Celebration

TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said he was proud of how the basketball performed in its first year under Dixon.

“It’s special to do what we did in the first season, and back when we hired Jamie Dixon, we knew he was going to bring championship basketball to TCU,” Del Conte said. “He wanted his players to feel proud to wear that jersey, and today you see the tears and adulation from people– it’s really a special moment.”

The team’s four seniors, Michael Williams, Brandon Parrish, Chris Washburn and Karviar Shepherd, finished their collegiate basketball careers in style and were overcome with emotion.

TCU senior forward Chris Washburn had difficulty putting his feelings into words after capping his career with an NIT championship.

“With everything, there just aren’t any words to describe how I feel right now,” Washburn said. “We were saying in the locker room to leave no doubt, and we came out here on a big run and then after that we just kept our foot on the gas and to finish like this– it just feels great.”

Parrish said winning the tournament was a moment he would cherish forever.

“For me to be able to have this moment with my brothers, and now we have something that’s forever, and nobody can ever take this away from us,” Parrish said. “There was so many times that people said that we would never be able to do it– that the guys on our team weren’t good enough, that our program wasn’t good enough– and just the fact that we can silence all the doubters today, it’s a dream come true.”