Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Texas, the basketball team its coach loves to portray as a passel of country yokels, won the National Invitation Tournament with a display of Ivy League intelligence Tuesday night after Rutgers started out strong against a flat Georgetown team and took third place.
The 101-93 score in Texas' victory over North Carolina State does not show the ease with which the Longhorns handled State's fullcourt press. The Longhorns opened a 10-point lead in less than 2 1/2 minutes and led by as many as 24 points.
This team, known outside the Southwest only for its outside shooting, made 22 layups among its 41 baskets.
In the opener at Madison Square Garden, Rutgers played what its coach described as the Knights' best half of the season. Rutgers opened an 18-2 lead, went ahead by as many as 29 points in the first half and coasted home an 85-72 winner.
But the loss could hardly take the glitter off Georgetown's best season ever, a 23-8 campaign. Coach John Thompson said afterward he could not "whip" his players in "a lameduck game."
For Texas, out of the long-maligned Southwest Conference, its 26th success in 31 games was a masterpiece that Coach Abe Lemons described as "a nice little game."
The efficacy with which pudgy 6-foot-4 Ron Baxter looped long passes made shambles of what State figured would be its most potent weapon for this game: the press to capitalize on its quickness.
State put pressure on Baxter's inbounds passes. This left four State players covering four Longhorns, and Baxter's Flings were as on target as any quarterback's in Texas' glorious football history. The Longhorns cashed 10 layups by breaking this press, and Baxter committed only two turnovers.
When the layup wasn't there. Jim Krivacs was, for his jump shot, as deadly to the Wolfpack as a rattle-snake. Krivacs had 33 points and nine assists. Baxter had 26 points and 12 rebounds. They shared the most valuable player award.
After receiving a kiss from the university, president Lorene Rogers - "That's the first time I've ever been kissed by a university president," Lemons said - the coach went into his yokel act, then became serious.
Neither Baxter nor Krivacs looks the type to be a quality player and Lemons said, "We beat people at the center lineup. They're so busy giggling that they can't play."
Texas was off fast before 11,323 customers. Baxter looped long passes to Krivacs and John Moore for layups, the Longhorns' nifty 2-1-2 zone defense came up with two steals that also resulted in layups and, when Baxter hit a 15-foot jumper, Texas had a 14-4 lead. The game wasn't 2 1/2 minutes old.
"Ron Baxter throws it, the guys know how to catch it," Lemons said. "For a little fat kid, he isn't too bad."
Then Lemons was serious: "This is a very smart team, a very clever team. I might have had eight clubs better than this one, but I've never had one that played better together."
State was down 16 points with less than three minutes to play and cut the margin at the end when Lemons substituted.
In Sunday's semifinals, Georgetown lost to State by one point in overtime, on Clyde Austin's 30-footer at the buzzer, and that appeared to take its toll on the Hoyas, who nevertheless whittled away at Rutgers' lead throughout the second half and pulled as close as 11 points.
"We started off flat. How can I get out and whip those kids?" said Thompson. "I can't say enough positive things about every kid on this team this season. I'm to blame for the way they played. I didn't go out and get excited. We were relaxed when we talked about the game at the hotel."