Desmond Bane just saved TCU’s season. TCU frittered away a 21 point lead to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, but a three-pointer from Bane with 11 seconds left put TCU up 71-70 and served as the game winner.
Lindy Waters missed a jumper and Alex Robinson chased down the rebound with .9 seconds left in the game. Robinson made the ensuing free throws, and Bane stole the inbounds pass to seal the victory.
The Frogs desperately needed this win. A loss would have essentially ended their hopes for a second-consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, but a win gives them a very good chance of making the dance.
Bane finished with 15 points and seven rebounds for TCU, while Kouat Noi added 20 points and seven rebounds of his own. It was really nice to see Noi assert himself on Wednesday, after two quiet games in a row. He got the Frogs started early, and then stepped back as Bane finished things late.
Alex Robinson had a great game overall, scoring 12 points, handing out eight assists, and pulling down six rebounds. He also played incredible defense for the majority of the game, making things very difficult for Oklahoma State’s perimeter shooters.
The focus of this game, though, will be on TCU’s blown lead. Teams shouldn’t give away a 21 point lead in the second half, even if they are only rolling with essentially six guys (Kendric Davis played just five minutes).
It was clear in the last ten minutes of the game, though, that the Frogs were gassed. Shots were falling short, defensive rotations were a step late, and Oklahoma State used that to go on a tremendous run.
Fortunately, though, the Frogs pulled it out in the end, and that’s all that matters in tournament play.
TCU couldn’t have jumped out to a better start if they wanted to. The Frogs jumped all over Oklahoma State, shooting 58% from the floor and 50% from three in the first half to get out to a 45-29 halftime lead.
It began with an 8-0 run to open the contest, led by two threes from Kouat Noi and a dunk from Kevin Samuel.
Swarming defense kept the Cowboys off their rhythm, and the Frogs used their defense to feed their offense, pulling out to a 23-9 lead at the 13-minute mark of the first half.
TCU’s lead ballooned to 16 at the 8:08 mark thanks to a Desmond Bane three. At that point in the half the Frogs were shooting 62.5% from the floor. They pushed their lead to 19, 41-22, a few minutes later thanks to a three from Noi, who had 14 first-half points.
TCU’s offense sputtered to close the last few minutes of the half, but they still carried a 45-29 lead into the break.
TCU pulled out to a 21-point lead early in the second half thanks to back-to-back threes form Bane and Noi, and it looked like the Frogs were going to completely run away from Oklahoma State.
Some sloppy play and a push from the Cowboys started to cut into the Frogs’ lead over the next several minutes. An 8-2 run, spurred by great play from Lindy Waters, pulled OSU to within 14.
The Pokes continued to chip away, and an Isaac Likekele layup with 5:10 remaining cut TCU’s lead to just nine.
Meanwhile, TCU was in the midst of 3+ minutes without a basket, and Oklahoma State wasn’t finished with their comeback. A 14-0 run from Oklahoma State tied the Frogs at 68 with less than a minute left in the game.
After watching a 21 point lead trickle away, the Frogs watched Oklahoma State take their first lead of the game with 25 seconds remaining, as Waters made two free throws to pull the Pokes ahead 70-68.
Bane’s clutch three with 11 seconds left, followed by Robinson’s free throws, sealed the victory for TCU, and kept them from being known for blowing a 21-point lead.
Now the Frogs have to rest up quickly. They play 1-seed Kansas State on Thursday afternoon at 1:30, on ESPN 2.
A win tomorrow would almost guarantee a tournament bid. Let’s go get it.