Texas head coach Shaka Smart talks to the media after the 58-44 win over TCU (Photo-Marvin Chambers)

By:|Troy Simmons:|4.0 Sports Media

Madison Square Garden-TCU entered the NIT semi-finals for the second time in three seasons and has won its last eight in the tournament. A win over the Longhorns would give TCU a three-game sweep over an opponent for the first time since defeating San Jose State three times during the 1999-2000 season.

Kerwin Roach II turned a season marred by suspension but he turned his season around in the NIT Tournament. Texas did just enough to beat TCU 58-44 on Tuesday night for a spot in the NIT championship.

“It was tough for our team when he went out,” coach Shaka Smart said. “It was certainly tough for him. He was really, really down and disappointed in himself.”

Texas (20-16) shot 40 percent for the game. TCU (23-14), which had been scoring points in buckets in the NIT to this point, but lost their shooting touch in the contest. The Horned Frogs’ 17 points were their worst output in the first half of any game this season. TCU shot 28.3 percent from the floor and were 19 percent from downtown.

Roach scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half to spark the Longhorns to a 15-point lead, and they held on against the gritty Horned Frogs (23-14). Texas can win its first NIT title since 1978 Thursday night.

TCU had swept the season series against Texas and failed to go 3-0 against its in-state and Big 12 rival. Texas still has won 18 of the last 25 games against the Horned Frogs.

TCU’s Robinson scored (12 points) and JD Miller (2 points, 8 rebounds) played their final games as Horned Frogs. They leave with an NIT title two years ago. Robinson leaves as the program’s all-time assist leader. Miller leaves with 140 games played, best in TCU history. Both leave as 1,000-point scorers.

The Horned Frogs won the NIT in 2017 and made the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time in 20 years.

Against TCU, Roach hit his only 3 and made 6 of 8 shots overall in the first half for 13 points and a 31-17 lead and the Horned Frogs never looked back.

The Longhorns went 1-4 in his absence over his most recent suspension ended before the Big 12 Tournament.

“He’s a guy that’s got a level of athleticism that allows him to get by his man and put the other team in a bit of a bind,” Smart said.