Fort Worth, Texas - TCU reached the 20-win mark on Saturday afternoon, with an 82-72 win over rival Baylor. The win moved TCU to 20-9 overall, and 8-8 in conference play with two games remaining.
Alex Robinson led the way for TCU with 22 points, but he had plenty of help, especially late. Desmond Bane scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds, scoring eight points in the final two minutes of the game to help the Frogs put Baylor away.
Bane’s highlight of the day may not have been on the offensive end, though, as he ruined a poster dunk in the final few minutes of play, as Baylor frantically tried to get back into the game.
“I just went up and hoped I didn’t get dunked on, and was lucky enough to get a finger on it,” Bane said about the play after the game.
Vladimir Brodziansky and Kouat Noi joined Robinson and Bane in double-digits with 14 and 11 points, respectively, as the Frogs seem to be closing in on an NCAA Tournament bid.
TCU shot 54% from the floor on the night, including an incredibly nice 69.6% in the second half. After the game Baylor coach Scott Drew commented on TCU’s offense, “You’re not going to win many games in this league when people are shooting 54% against you.”
Junior Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. led Baylor with 22 point, but foul trouble kept him off the court in key moments of both halves.
The Frogs pulled out to a 9-4 lead early in the game, thanks to some strong play from JD Miller, who scored four quick points. The Frogs held on to their lead as the game slipped under the 12-minute mark of the first half, thanks to a strong defensive effort, and some great rebounding.
A 15-10 lead at the 11:14 mark quickly turned into a 25-14 lead, thanks to a 10-4 run by the Frogs over the next three minutes of play. A three from Alex Robinson, followed by a transition bucket from Kouat Noi forced Baylor to call a timeout with 8:28 remaining in the half.
Baylor responded out of the timeout with six straight points, cutting TCU’s lead to 25-20, forcing TCU to call a quick timeout with 6:20 left in the half.
The game would be close through the rest of the half, as TCU held on to a lead despite some pressure from Baylor on both ends of the court. Tough baskets by both teams showed that the refs were content, for a few minutes, to let them play.
However, it was just a brief respite from the ref show. Baylor was whistled for 10 fouls in the first half, while TCU was hit with four. Overall Baylor finished with 22 fouls, while TCU finished with 15.
A Robinson basket would push TCU’s lead to 33-28 with under a minute left, and a rebound on the defensive end gave TCU a chance to hold for the last shot, but a missed three from JD Miller gave Baylor one last opportunity as time ran down. Terry Maston caught the ball under Baylor’s basket as the clock ran down, but he couldn’t convert the opportunity. Thus, TCU took a 33-28 lead into the half.
Alex Robinson scored nine of TCU’s first ten points of the half, as the Frogs maintained a slim margin in the first four minutes of the final frame. A 7-0 run from Baylor cut TCU’s lead to one, but Robinson’s third basket of the half gave TCU a 40-37 lead with 16:40 left in the game.
Baylor cut the deficit to one after two free throws, and an Alex Robinson three pushed TCU’s lead to 43-39. Four straight points from Baylor tied the game at 43, and a Vlad baby hook reclaimed the lead for TCU with under 15 minutes remaining in the game.
It was a back-and-forth affair from then on, with TCU hitting free throws, and Baylor having their way inside. Consecutive dunks from Vlad and Clark made it a 52-51 game with under 11 minutes left.
A tense minute followed, with both teams feeling like the other got away with a few fouls, and the fans starting to really let the refs hear it. With 9:47 left in the game, Desmond Bane took the ball right at a Baylor big, and scored over him, pushing TCU’s lead to 54-51.
Baylor would claim their first lead since the opening minutes of the game on two free throws from Lual-Acuil Jr., giving the Bears a 57-56 lead. It was short-lived, though as Kouat Noi would give the Frogs the lead back with a corner three. Another basket from Lual-Acuil tied the game at 59, with 8:18 remaining in the contest.
Two free throws from Robinson would give TCU a 61-59 lead with just under 8 minutes left, and the Frogs would score twice more in a row, pushing their lead to 65-59 and forcing Baylor to call a timeout with 6:34 remaining in the contest.
Two free throws from Baylor would stop TCU’s mini-run, but a big three from Kouat Noi pushed the Frogs’ lead to 68-61 with 5:51 left. It was Baylor’s turn to string some baskets together, as they cut the deficit to 68-65.
TCU responded again, with a basket from Alex Robinson, and TCU’s next time down the court, Robinson would draw Lual-Acuil’s fourth foul of the game, much to the chagrin of Baylor coach Scott Drew.
Ahmed Hamdy got in on the action late as well, with a 3-point play and several huge rebounds, as the Frogs pulled out to a 73-65 lead.
A Desmond Bane breakaway dunk gave TCU a 77-68 lead with a minute remaining in the game, as the Scholly absolutely exploded, and the Frogs wouldn’t look back.
Free throws would help TCU finish Baylor off down the stretch, as TCU moves to 20-9 on the season.
The Frogs next host Kansas State on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The question now, is whether or not TCU has done enough to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. at 20-9, 8-8, with a KenPom ranking of 21, and an RPI of 20 (both of which should change once this win is counted), it looks like the Frogs are on the inside looking out.
However, with two games remaining in the regular season, now isn’t the time to rest on their laurels.
Check out TCU’s full postgame comments below.