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No. 20 West Virginia 82, TCU 66: Frogs run out of steam in tough road game

Once again with just 7 scholarship players, TCU ran out of gas and struggled to rebound in a loss to No. 20 West Virginia.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Morgantown, West Virginia - Playing short-handed once again, and in their second game in three days, TCU simply ran out of steam against a deep West Virginia team on Monday night, falling 82-66.

The Frogs fought hard throughout the contest, but without Shawn Olden for the second straight game due to a concussion TCU was with only seven scholarship players, while the Mountaineers rotated 10 guys on the court consistently. This was exemplified by the bench scoring. WVU got 38 points from their reserves, including 16 points from freshman Teddy Allen, to just eight bench points for TCU.

Desmond Bane led the way for TCU with 16 points, Vladimir Brodziansky scored 15, and Kouat Noi scored 12. Noi struggled from the floor though in his second straight start, going just 5-17 from the floor.

The Frogs protected the ball relatively well against the tough press and defense of West Virginia, turning the ball over only 13 times, but rebounding was TCU’s Achilles heel all night. West Virginia out-rebounded TCU 38-29.

Defensively, TCU allowed a West Virginia offense, one that has been shaky at best when playing in the halfcourt, to shoot 50.8% from the floor for the game, and 56.3% from three point range. This was, again, a result of the limited bodies TCU had available, and the fact that down the stretch everyone was gassed.

This game was a grind from the start. TCU’s offense helped the Frogs jump out to a quick 8-2 lead, but West Virginia’s defensive pressure offset their abysmal shooting start to the contest, as the Frogs weren’t able to put much distance between themselves and the Mountaineers.

TCU maintained a lead over the first ten minutes of game play, but after a 4-14 start from the floor for WVU, the Mountaineers started hitting threes, which allowed West Virginia to take a 21-19 lead with a little over six minutes left in the first half.

Despite starting well defensively, the Frogs fell into some bad habits in the final eight minutes of the first half. Perimeter and transition defense, coupled with some suddenly cold shooting, allowed West Virginia to mount a 22-8 run over the last eight minutes of play in the first half. The Mountaineers took a 38-27 lead into halftime.

TCU’s struggles were compounded by the fact that West Virginia out-rebounded them 22-12 in the first half, and the Mountaineers pulled down 13 offensive boards, leading to 10 second chance points.

TCU cut into their 11-point deficit in the first few minutes of the second half, pulling to within 42-37 after two Alex Robinson free throws. Just a few minutes earlier Desmond Bane made a great transition layup, during which he was fouled. Bane fell to the ground, and came up favoring his left leg rather significantly. He would continue to play, but he looked like the leg bothered him for a good portion of the half.

The Frogs would remain within 6-8 points over the next several minutes of the game, as we dipped below 13 minutes remaining in the game. This was, in large part, thanks to Desmond Bane, who hit two huge threes during that span to keep TCU within striking distance. His second three made the score 50-45 in favor of the Mountaineers, with 11:45 left in the contest.

Bane’s effort was obviously coming at a cost, though, as he threw up on the court with just under 11 minutes left in the game, causing a media timeout.

TCU and West Virginia traded baskets as the clock ticked under nine minutes remaining, but TCU simply couldn’t play consistently enough on both ends to climb back into the game. Free throws for WVU extended their lead to 59-49 with 8:31 remaining.

Unfortunately, TCU’s rebounding woes would doom them. An Alex Robinson free throw would pull TCU to within nine, 64-55, with exactly seven minutes left. Needing several stops, TCU would bear down defensively, forcing multiple misses from West Virginia.

The Frogs, though, couldn’t pull down a defensive rebound, and the Mountaineers would capitalize with a big three point shot. TCU would continue to battle, but their short bench and rebounding deficiencies proved to be too much to overcome down the stretch.

West Virginia extended their lead in the last few minutes of the game, making it seem like a bigger blowout than it actually was.

The Frogs fall to 17-9 on the season, and 5-8 in Big 12 play. They simply can’t afford many more losses if they still want to get into the NCAA Tournament.

The good news is that TCU now has four full days to rest up before they host Oklahoma State at the Scholly on Saturday night. The bad news is, the last time TCU was on this kind of schedule, they lost to Vanderbilt. If the Frogs want to keep their tournament hopes alive, this is a must-win game.