Austin, TX - From first team out to last team in, the Horned Frogs made a statement Saturday morning in Austin, thumping the Longhorns on their home floor to get back in the NCAA Tournament field. While nothing is guaranteed with many conference tournaments yet to be played, TCU certainly made a statement in bouncing back from three straight Big 12 losses to likely knock Texas out - on their Senior Day.
TCU Basketball came out of the gates looking like a team that had their backs against the wall, and played with the intensity demanded of what basically amounted to an elimination game. But Texas was in the same boat, and matched the energy of the Horned Frogs on the floor and the scoreboard early.
It was a back and forth affair through the first 11 minutes of action, as no team held more than a three point lead as the game saw six ties and three lead changes in early action. Texas had the first chance to pull away early, using a 8-0 run to create separation. But the Frogs answered right back, putting up the next 11 points on their way to an eight point half time lead, at 35-27.
The fast pace of the first half seemed to suit both teams; after four early TCU turnovers, the Frogs found a rhythm on offense as the half progressed, ending the first 20 minutes on a 19-5 run. Much of that run was fueled by junior Desmond Bane and freshman Kendric Davis - two players known for their high-energy and ability to hit circus shots. The two guards combined for 19 first half points, led by Bane’s 12, that included a 2-2 start from behind the arc. The Frogs shot over 50% from the field across the first 20 minutes, out-rebounded the Horns 20-10, and led despite doubling up UT in turnovers, 9-4.
He wouldn’t let up after he came out of the locker room, exploding in the second half on his way to a career-high 34 points. Bane made his first six three pointers, shot 14-20 from the floor, and... did not attempt a single free throw. He had help, though, as Kendric Davis (8/4/3), Kevin Samuel (8/5), and JD Miller (5/5/3) each contributed at key moments. After being shut out Monday night against Kansas State, Kouat Noi got on the board early against Texas, but finished the game with just four points on 2-6 shooting. Foul trouble contributed to his struggles once again, as the sophomore forward played just 23 minutes Saturday morning.
TCU was hot in the second half, knowing how crucial finishing strong was to their goals. They shot over 50% from the field in the final frame as well, and while their three point shooting cooled off some (4-10), their defensive intensity did not - as they held Texas under 40% from the field, to just 1-8 shooting from three, and forced five turnovers.
Texas never got closer than six points in the second half, and trailed by double-digits most of the final 20 minutes. Meanwhile, TCU stretched the lead to as much as 20 points, and held on as they slowed the pace down over the final eight minutes of play. It’s the second time in the last three years that the Frogs have swept the season series with the UT.
Jaxson Hayes led Texas with 19/7, but every player in Burnt Orange finished the game on the wrong side of +/-. The Horns had just nine turnovers - but they also had just nine assists - and never looked comfortable after the first ten minutes of play. The loss puts Texas is serious danger of not making the 68 team field - currently sitting at 16-15 with the conference tournament on deck and knowing that no .500 team has ever made the tournament as an at-large. Meanwhile, the Frogs are probably a win over (likely) WVU in the first round of the tournament away from securing a bid, but could be in regardless if there aren’t too many bid thieves along the way. Desmond Bane knows there will be some politicking involved, but he knows what he and his team are capable of, too. “I don’t know if we’re more deserving (of an NCAA bid) than Texas, but I know we’re deserving.”
The Frogs will face either WVU or Oklahoma State Wednesday at 6:00pm in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament, played in Kansas City, Missouri. The winner will take on the #1 seed, which will be either Texas Tech or Kansas State, pending today’s results.