Texas rides defensive wave to win NIT and salvage season

Photo by Russell Wilburn

On March 17, the season was seen as a disappointment for Texas. But on April 4, you couldn't tell that was the case.

Texas (21-16) won the NIT 81-66 over Lipscomb (29-8) Thursday night in Madison Square Garden to wash away the initial pain of losing out on an NCAA Tournament bid to end the regular season. For seniors Dylan Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach, two players who have been staples of Shaka Smart's Texas teams and have seen the program endure a rough four-year stretch finished their careers with a much-deserved piece of hardware. Osetkowski finished with a game-high 19 points and 11 boards while Roach added 16 points.

Texas never let the Bisons breathe with smothering defense and held Lipscomb to just 39 percent shooting from the floor and forced 14 turnovers.

Texas embraced the NIT and after holding on for close wins against South Dakota State and Xavier in the opening rounds, won its last three games by double digits and held all three opponents to less than 60 points. Xavier was the only team to shoot above 45 percent against the Horns' defense.

Head coach Shaka Smart's tenure so far has bee a rocky one with Texas missing the NCAA Tournament now two out of four years and never getting out of the First Round, but an NIT Tournament title should be a much-needed springboard into 2019-2020. 

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