Let’s be explicitly clear: it is very difficult to win on the road in the Big 12. Thus, the final score is really all that matters in TCU’s 59-57 victory over Kansas State on Tuesday night. The Frogs moved to 2-0 in conference play with the win and 11-3 overall. It’s the first time TCU has started Big 12 play 2-0 since joining the conference.
Desmond Bane led the Frogs with 16 points, while RJ Nembhard added 15, including seven second-half points all from the free throw line. Kevin Samuel had a 10-point, 15-rebound double-double, including a game-winning tip-in with 1.7 seconds left in the game.
Jaire Grayer added 10 points and seven rebounds as well, but that’s pretty much where the scoring stopped for the Frogs. The rest of the team managed just eight points on the night - a terrible shooting night for both teams.
TCU finished the game shooting 33.9% from the floor, with more turnovers (13) than assists (12). That included a 6-27 effort from the floor in the second half, a staggering 22.2%.
Fortunately, Kansas State was hellbent on matching TCU’s struggles. The Wildcats were just 4-20 from deep on the night, and an abysmal 3-10 from the free throw line in the second half. Xavier Sneed led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points, but he was just 5-14 from the floor, and didn’t get much help from anyone else.
Streaks defined the first half for TCU. They opened the game on a 7-0 run, thanks in large part to Nembhard and Samuel. Nembhard continued his hot shooting from Saturday afternoon, drilling his first three from the corner to put the Frogs in front.
TCU wouldn’t trail until the 11:39 mark of the first half, when a David Sloan jumper put the Wildcats in front 13-12.
TCU struggled for a solid eight minutes in the middle of the first frame, making just two of their first nine three point shots, and seeing Desmond Bane not get his first shot attempt until the 8:57 mark of the half. Kansas State did a fantastic job hedging on Bane for the first ten minutes of the game, but he managed to get loose a few times in the next ten minutes, finishing the first half with eight points.
The Frogs and Wildcats went back and forth for the next few minutes following Bane’s first basket. Kevin Samuel broke a 19-19 tie with just under six minutes remaining, and that prompted a 16-6 TCU run to end the half.
The run included four three-point shots from four different Frogs, with Nembhard, Bane, Dennis, and Grayer all striking from deep in the final few minutes.
Grayer’s three came right at the buzzer. He scooped up a loose ball and calmly put up a good look, and the Frogs watched it fall as the buzzer sounded. The shot gave the Frogs a 35-25 lead at the half.
TCU looked like they would blow the doors off the game early in the second half, taking a 40-29 lead just a few minutes into the final frame, but that’s when things took a significant turn.
While the Frogs never trailed in the second half, their advantage shrank to one point twice in the final 10 minutes of the game, and vanished with a David Sloan three with just 13 seconds left in the game.
Sloan’s three came after Kevin Samuel secured a rebound, and TCU holding a 57-54 lead, before he passed the ball directly back to Kansas State.
Samuel redeemed himself seconds later, tipping in Nembhard’s missed shot at the basket with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. Kansas State’s desperation three fell harmlessly to the ground as the buzzer sounded, giving the Frogs the victory.
TCU’s next game comes back at the Scholly, this Saturday at 1pm. The Frogs host Oklahoma State looking to move to 3-0 in Big 12 play, as they try to continue to find ways to win despite being far from perfect.