TCU completely collapsed in the second half on Sunday night, blowing a 52-37 lead with 7:39 left in the game to lose in overtime, 62-60.
Edric Dennis Jr. led TCU with 18 points, followed closely by Desmond Bane with 17. But 21 turnovers and 37.9% shooting on the night doomed the Frogs in the end, who fall to 4-1 on the season.
It’s a staggering loss, simply because TCU asserted control in the second half and seemed to have things locked down. But an unprecedented scoreless streak, which saw missed layups, mind-numbing turnovers, and missed free throws late, doomed TCU in the end.
The first half couldn’t have started much worse for both offenses. At the 16:09 mark of the half, Clemson led 6-0, with TCU missing their first four shots, turning it over four times, and looking completely out of sorts on offense.
Fortunately for TCU, Clemson started off almost as slowly, despite hitting two threes, so the Frogs didn’t suffer too much from their slow start.
Also fortunately for TCU, Edric Dennis Jr. decided to transfer to TCU from UT-Arlington this season. The grad transfer has prided himself on bringing energy and effort off the bench this season, and he did so again on Sunday night, hitting three three-point shots in the first half to help jump the offense.
While Dennis did his best to spark things, the rest of the Frogs looked sluggish, racking up turnovers and missed open looks left and right through the first 12 minutes of the half. A Kevin Samuel dunk gave the Frogs a brief 10-8 lead, before Clemson’s Tevin Mack drilled a three to put the Tigers back in front 11-10.
Through it all, Desmond Bane looked well on his way to a third straight quiet game. Then, Bane burst on to the scene with nine of TCU’s final 11 points of the half, including a layup at the buzzer to give the Frogs a 25-23 halftime lead.
Bane and Dennis led the Frogs with nine points each at the break, while Mack led all scorers with 13.
Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, with TCU shooting just over 34% and Clemson shooting just over 33%. The Frogs also turned it over nine times in the first half, but out-rebounded Clemson 19-12.
TCU opened the second half in a very Jekkyl and Hyde fashion. The Frogs turned it over four times in the first two minutes, but managed to force Clemson into a timeout after a 7-2 scoring run that gave TCU a 32-25 lead.
Dennis continued his hot streak after halftime as well, helping TCU out to their first double-digit lead of the evening at the 14:30-minute mark of the second half. After hitting his fourth three of the contest, Dennis stole the ball near the top of the key, and hit PJ Fuller with a pass on the break. Fuller got the basket, the foul, and the free throw, giving the Frogs a 39-28 lead.
TCU’s lead wavered between nine and 11 over the next several minutes, as Clemson refused to completely cave, despite watching their shooting percentage crater over the first ten minutes of the half.
Leading 52-37 and looking to put the game away with 7:39 left in the game, the Frogs shuddered to a halt offensively, and watched Clemson go on an 15-0 run over the next seven minutes.
After Clemson tied the game at 52 with 24 seconds left, the Frogs advanced the ball to the front court and called a timeout. With 14.6 seconds left, Dixon put the ball in Bane’s hands, and let the senior go to work.
Bane managed to draw a foul on his drive, but he missed both free throws, leaving 3.9 seconds left for Clemson to try a game winning shot. Simms drove to the rim with the hopes of a game-winner, but Samuel rejected the shot, sending the game to overtime.
Dennis looked to will TCU to victory, scoring five quick points for the Frogs helping them out to a 60-56 advantage in overtime. But a 5-0 run from Clemson gave the Tigers a 61-60 lead with just over a minute left.
TCU has two chances to take a lead, but failed both times. Clemson did their best to help the Frogs out by missing four free throws in the final minute, but the Frogs turned it over once, and missed two shots right at the rim - a fitting end to a staggering collapse.
The Frogs will have to regroup quickly, as they play Wyoming on Tuesday night, and they’ll be left with significant questions about what went wrong over the final 12+ minutes of the second half and overtime.