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X Marks the Spot: Frogs fall to Xavier 67-59

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A late rally falls just short as TCU heads into the holidays with a tough home loss to a talented Musketeers team.

There were some highlights, like this RJ Nembhard alley-oop jam, but TCU didn’t produce enough on the offensive end to take down the Musketeers Sunday in Fort Worth.
Melissa Triebwasser

It’s hard to beat good teams.

It’s REALLY hard to beat good teams when you shoot 32% from the field and 30% from behind the arc.

That’s the position the Horned Frogs found themselves in Sunday, when they welcomed a just-outside-the-top-25 Musketeers team to Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth as part of the inaugural Big East/Big 12 Battle.

It was obvious that TCU Basketball was going to struggle to score against a big and athletic Xavier team — it didn’t help that Desmond Bane didn’t make a field goal until three minutes had passed in the second half, part of an 8-27 effort from the field from the Frogs through the first 20 minutes. The Musketeers didn’t struggle nearly as much, doubling the made field goals and going 4-7 from deep while TCU got out to a 2-12 start from behind the arc. The Musketeers bullied the Frogs inside as well, outscoring them 34-20 from the paint as they used size and experience to take advantage of an undersized (apart from Kevin Samuel) front line. Samuel definitely made an impact, leading the scoring for his team (nine first half points), and at times seemingly the only consistent option for the Frogs on that side of the ball. Samuel finished with yet another double-double — 14 points and 11 rebounds — and also went 4-5 from the line while collecting just three fouls, both hugely encouraging signs for TCU.

But, outside of Samuel, the Frogs didn’t find much on offense; Bane got it going in the second half and finished with a double-double himself (14 and 10), but Edric Dennis was the only other player in double figures (12) and only six Frogs scored at all. Meanwhile, the Musketeers had no problem ripping the nets — in fact, the net on their side of the court had to be replaced at halftime. Seriously. Xavier led by as many as 22 points at one point in the second half, and was in control from basically the opening tip.

TCU wasn’t all bad defense; though the Muskies shot 53% from the field and nearly 47% from three, the Frogs also forced 21 turnovers (leading to 19 points) and stayed within three rebounds of their opponents. They finally saw that effort pay off in the final few minutes, as they cut a big lead that had been as many as 22 down to as few as seven over the final seven minutes thanks to a couple of big Desmond Bane shots and back-to-back Jaire Grayer threes.

But it wasn’t enough, as the Muskies did just enough to hold the Frogs at bay on their way to win number 11. TCU falls to 8-3 on the season and will have the next week off before welcoming George Mason to the Schollie on December 30th in their last preseason game of the year. That precludes the opening of Big 12 play, starting at home against Iowa State.