Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NIT Semi-Finals

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY -- The final two teams are set. Baylor defeated San Diego State 76-62 and Penn State held on for a 67-59 win over Notre Dame in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. This guarantees, actually the Final Four field guaranteed, the winner will capture their first NIT title. The final numbers:

San Diego St.680.915228

What Baylor did to get to Thursday -- Shoot the ball. They literally attacked on the perimeter with an uncanny 11 of 22 from beyond the arc. LaceDarius Dunn had 23 points including 6 of 9 from three. Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells paced all scorers with 25. Jerrells is a problem for defenses as he is a deft penetrator as well as a perimeter threat. Baylor defended , in three NIT games their defensive PPP was over 1.00, largely be forcing 19 turnovers.

A good deal of action took place beyond the arc in this one. Baylor took 44% of their field goal attempts from three. The breakdown.

3 Point
San Diego St.532343

Baylor shot 50 percent (11 of 22) from three compared to the Azrecs’ 9 of 23 (39%) which contributed a good deal to the outcome.

The nightcap featured a physical battle with a good dose of transition.

Penn State661.02469
Notre Dame660.894011

What Penn State did well -- Defend and hold on. The first half Notre Dame had a .58 PPP and eFG mark of 26%. The Irish missed shots but credit the tough Penn State defense. The second half ND found the range and Luke Harangody (17 points) came alive. Notre Dame also disrupted the Penn State offense with full court pressure and half court traps. The pressure didn’t show up in turnovers but it did force Penn State into rushed and/or ill advised shots.T he Irish had what was almost a twenty point deficit, down to a two possession game in the stretch. Penn State never lost the lead largely due to a big Jamelle Cornley (16 points) jumper with just under four to play.

Over 11,000 attended. Penn State had 18 busloads make the trip from Happy Valley and Joe PA, saluted with a standing ovation, was in attendance.

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