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Texas Tech 79, TCU 75: Frogs fall in season finale, finish 5th in Big 12

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The Frogs fall to 21-10 on the season, and 9-9 in conference play.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

TCU experienced their worst three-point shooting effort of the season, as they dropped their season finale to Texas Tech, 79-75. TCU finishes the season 21-10, and 9-9 in Big 12 play, good for fifth in the conference.

Now, TCU will play Kansas State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament this Thursday, at 11:30am. The Frogs and Wildcats split the season series, with TCU’s win coming this past Tuesday, 66-59.

The Frogs shot just 5-23 from deep on the evening, including just 2-20 after making their first three, and 2-11 in the second half as they watched a halftime lead slip away.

After finding himself out of the starting lineup over the past several games, JD Miller was back on the court for the tip as Kouat Noi slid back to the bench. Miller shot just 2-7 from the floor on the day, while Noi shot just 1-7. Miller and Noi, both so vital to TCU’s success this season, have struggled mightily the past two games.

Desmond Bane led the way for the Frogs with 21 points, while Vladimir Brodziansky added 16 points and 10 rebounds in a strong effort. Kenrich Williams also recorded a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but he was held scoreless in the second half.

The Frogs shot just 40.6% from the floor on the night, but managed to stay close in the second half thanks to a significant rebounding edge, 39-27. TCU scored 21 second chance points, to just two for Texas Tech, as they watched an early 12 point lead, and a five point halftime lead, fade to black in the second half.

TCU started off on the right foot, as Desmond Bane and Kenrich Williams both knocked down threes to give TCU a 6-3 lead in the first minute of the game. The Frogs their first three threes of the game, as they pulled out to an 18-9 lead.

Tech flashed some power early, as Keenan Evans and Zach Smith were both back healthy, playing together for the first time in several months. Smith’s play above the rim and Evans’ ability to facilitate helped Tech stay within striking distance.

TCU found themselves up by double-digits three separate times in this first half, but each time, Tech would battle back.

The Frogs shooting also cooled of tremendously over the last few minutes of the half, as they dipped below 40% from the floor. An Alex Robinson free throw with .3 seconds remaining in the half gave TCU a 40-35 lead heading into the break.

15 first half points from Bane, and 11 points and eight rebounds from Kenny Hustle were the big reasons why TCU didn’t trail at all in the first half of the game.

Vlad Brodziansky opened up the second half for TCU by drawing two consecutive charges. The first one was on Zach Smith, who went down awkwardly and held his ankle. He limped off the court and sat at the end of the bench.

Offensively, TCU’s cold shooting from deep continued, as Williams and Vlad both missed threes. After making their first three from deep, TCU missed their next 11 from behind the arc. Desmond Bane would snap that streak with a big three from the top of the key, giving TCU a 47-41 lead in the early minutes of the second half.

Fortunately for TCU, Bane and Vlad kept the Frogs ahead in the first five minutes of the second half, despite some very hot shooting from Texas Tech.

The Raiders opened the half 4-5 from the floor, cutting TCU’s lead to 49-46, and their only missed shot was a block by Kenrich Williams.

A three-point play from Keenan Evans tied the game at 49, but a shot from Hamdy reclaimed the lead for the Frogs at 51-49. Two more free throws from Evans tied the game at 51.

After a Hamdy free throw, the refs missed an obvious travel on Zhaire Smith, and he made a layup to give Tech their first lead of the game, 53-52. Their lead extended to 55-52 after two more free throws.

With 11:23 left in the game, JD Miller went up strong to the rim and got fouled, resulting in two free throws. He made both to bring TCU to within one, 55-54.

TCU’s woeful night behind the arc continued, though, as Shawn Olden missed TCU’s 14th three of the night. Bane missed TCU’s 15th of the night, but Vlad was there for the tip in, as the game ticked down to the final 10 minutes of play, with TCU down by two.

Another basket from Keenan Evans pushed TCU’s deficit to four, forcing the Frogs to call a timeout with 9:17 remaining in the game.

A three out of the break for Robinson was countered by a three from Evans, as the back-and-forth continued.

TCU couldn’t quite get over the hump, largely in part to Keenan Evans’ second half. He scored from everywhere, drew fouls, and played solid defense for Tech every time they needed it. The Frogs hung around, though, and an Alex Robinson free throw pulled the Frogs to within 69-66 with just under five minutes to go in the game.

A Stevenson basket gave Tech a five point lead as things slipped under the four minute mark.

TCU continued to battle, as a basket from Vlad pulled the Frogs to within two, but a circus shot from Zhaire Smith pushed Tech’s lead back to four.

Alex Robinson pulled the Frogs back to within two, 73-71, as he came around a Vlad screen for the layup with 1:43 left in the contest.

TCU simply couldn’t overcome their poor shooting night from behind the arc, as Keenan Evans’ 23 second-half points were too much for the Frogs to handle.

All in all, though, it has been a fantastic season for TCU. 21-10 overall, with a 9-9 record in Big 12 play, TCU has clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.