Give Texas a ton of credit. Just hours after learning star guard Andrew Jones had been diagnosed with Leukemia, the Longhorns turned in a terrific first half, slicing and dicing the TCU defense with ease on their way to a 60% shooting performance in the first 20 minutes. Coach Shaka Smart got creative with his lineup, which was missing not only Jones but his backcourt mate Kerwin Roach, rolling out three bigs - which flustered the Frogs on both sides of the court.
A trio of true freshman got the Horns rolling, as guard Matt Coleman and forwards Mo Bamba and Jericho Sims absolutely torched TCU in the first twenty minutes. Coleman, who had six points on 3-3 shooting to start the game, dished out eight assists in the first half alone, eclipsing his season average. Sims, who scores all of three points a game, had 11 points - pretty much all on dunks. Bamba added six points and three boards but picked up two fouls - something that TCU’s Jaylen Fisher did as well. The Frogs got nothing from their starting lineup - the first five shot 3-11 in the first half, with only a 7-11 performance from deep keeping them in the game. Kouat Noi went 3-3 from long range and Ahmed Hamdy had an efficient six points as well, and TCU went to the locker room trailing 43-33.
TCU started the second half slowly as well, as Vladimir Brodziansky missed his first two shots, bothered by the length of Bamba. As Bamba and Sims started to make an impact on defense, their offense only picked up the pace. The two bigs dunked all over TCU on one end of the floor and swatted everything on the other, on their way to a 24 point and six block night combined.
Despite missing out 25 points per game in production, the Horns had one of their best offensive nights on the year. Texas shot 60% from the field until the ten minute mark of the second half, as they went through their first drought of the game right as Jaylen Fisher and Kenrich Williams started to heat up. It was those two players who got their team back in the game - after making one shot between them in the first half, they got it together in the second, with Hustle giving the Frogs the lead twice on deep threes. But twice in the final few minutes, Texas found the bottom of the net from three with the shot clock expiring, forcing the Frogs to come up with big shot after big shot to stay alive. Kenny Hustle heard the call, and answered time and time again. Kenny hit seven threes, all in the final twenty minutes of regulation, willing the Frogs back into it. His hot shooting opened things up inside, and that allowed Vladimir Brodziansky to have an impact in the waning moments, as he had four late points, including a layup to tie things at 77.
The teams would head to overtime, where they would trade big buckets at every turn. A huge three by Alex Robinson, his third of the game, gave TCU a late two point lead, and Williams stretched it to four with a three of his own after a Texas free throw. But the Horns took back the lead on Dylan Osetkowski’s first triple of the evening with just ten second remaining, meaning Jamie Dixon’s team would need some heroics of their own. They got them in the form of a Vlad elbow jumper at the buzzer, sending the game to a second OT.
It looked like TCU’s game to lose in the final five minutes, but Texas kept making plays. Well, Dylan Osetkowski kept making plays. He had four points from the free throw line and a crucial offensive rebound, but was unable to keep TCU at bay. The Frogs took the lead, 98-96, on a pair of Jaylen Fisher free throws, but Matt Coleman answered back with a layup for two of his 17 points - he also had 12 assists on the night. After Desmond Bane missed a jumper, Kenrich Williams made a big mental mistake, fouling Jericho Sims as he tried to tie up the ball on the rebound. Sims went 1-2 from the line, leaving the Frogs down 99-98 with less than six seconds to play. TCU got what it wanted - the ball in Jaylen Fisher’s hands streaking down the court, but after a great move, his layup attempt at the buzzer came up short, as did his team.
TCU, which is now 1-3 in Big 12 play, was led by Kenrich Williams 26 points (8-14 from three) and eight rebounds,. All of his points came in the second half and overtime periods. Vlad and Fish, who were also both scoreless through the first 20 minutes, dropped in 19 and 13 respectively, Alex Robinson had 14, and Noi nine, all in the first half. TCU was out-rebound 33-30, but had more assists than Texas (22-17) and fewer turnovers (11-18). They shot 48% from the field and made 15 threes, but a slow start doomed them once again and they weren’t quite able to get over the hump late. TCU never led by more than four, but trailed by as many as 13 in the game. Texas played just seven players in 50 minutes of game action, and all had at least eight points, with five in double-digits. Osetkowski and Davis had 20+ a piece.
The Frogs now have to rest up and get ready to rematch with a tough Oklahoma team in Norman on Saturday. It’s a devastating loss, their second in a row, but they have to regroup. Two can’t become three or three four.
Again, as much as this loss sucks, all the credit in the world goes to the Longhorns. They played with heavy hearts and managed to gut out a win short-handed and hurting. They earned the win, TCU did not. As Jamie Dixon said Saturday, “we got exactly what we deserved”.