By Peter Castillo
In its first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team has advanced to the semifinals in New York City and will take on Georgia Tech at Madison Square Garden today at 4 p.m. on ESPN.
While defense has carried the eighth-seeded Roadrunners all season, the offense has caught fire during the team’s recent hot streak that has seen three consecutive road victories including an 80-76 victory over the University of Texas at Arlington.
After averaging 71.2 points per game in the regular season, the Roadrunners have scored 78 points per game in the NIT.
CSUB is the first eight seed in NIT history to advance to the semifinals.
The Roadrunners (25-9) are led by senior guard Dedrick Basile who has averaged a team-high 17.6 points per game during the tournament. He is shooting 9-of-19 from three-point range in that same stretch.
Junior swingman Shon Briggs has provided a spark off the bench for CSUB as he’s chipped in with 17 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
The sixth-seeded Yellow Jackets (20-15) advanced to the semifinals after dispatching the University of Mississippi, 74-66 in the quarterfinals.
This is the second time in program history that Georgia Tech has advanced to the NIT semifinals.
The Ramblin’ Wreck have been stout on the defensive end as well as they rank sixth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
Georgia Tech is led by freshman guard Josh Okogie who averages 16.1 points per game and has averaged 21.7 points per game in the NIT.
Junior center Ben Lammers pulled down a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game and added 20 points and 8 blocks in the quarterfinals against Ole Miss.
During the regular season, the Yellow Jackets had a victory against the eventual Final Four-bound University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
The winner from this game will advance to the NIT final to take on the winner of the matchup between the University of Central Florida and Texas Christian University.
The final is scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip-off on ESPN on Thursday, March 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.