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Oklahoma 82, TCU 78: Frogs fall short in Big 12 opener

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TCU drops to 4-1 on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

TCU fell short against the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday afternoon, 82-78, in their Big 12 conference opener.

Mike Miles led TCU with 21 points, as the true freshman once again showed why he was so highly recruited out of high school. Miles is averaging 11.4 points and three assists per game early in the season, and the big moments against Oklahoma didn’t seem too big for him.

Jamie Dixon complimented him after the game, “He’s doing a good job as far as penetrating. He’s making good decisions for the most part, taking good shots, defending pretty well. He’s smart, he picks things up. You don’t have to tell him twice and he has some toughness to him.”

RJ Nembhard added 18 points and five assists, but shot just 5-15 from the floor, regressing after shooting over 50% in Thursday’s win over Northwestern State.

Austin Reaves led all scorers with 32 for Oklahoma, including 16 points from the free throw line. His aggression and ability to lure TCU into putting their hands on them were a huge factor, especially in the second half. He drew 10 fouls on the afternoon, and took TCU completely out of their defensive rhythm.

On the day, TCU committed 18 fouls. Both Dixon and Miles said that they’ve got to be better in that regard.

“We need to be more physical without fouling, guard, keep people in front of us.” Dixon noted, going on to say that they can’t continue to lean into the excuse of being a young team. “We can’t keep saying we’re going to figure it out, we’ve got to do it.”

Miles added, specifically about Reaves getting to the line for 18 free throws, “I dont think it was anything he did, it was what we didn’t do. We weren’t playing defense the right way, he drove and drew the foul like he’s supposed to do.”

Reaves’ performance is a continuation of the damage he did to the Frogs in Fort Worth a season ago, when he scored 41 points and hit the game winning three to beat the Frogs 78-76.

TCU opened the game shooting the ball well led by PJ Fuller, who started in the place of an injured Chuck O’Bannon. Fuller scored 12 first half points for the Frogs, including TCU’s first five points of the contest.

After the game Jamie Dixon noted that O’Bannon turned his ankle in practice on Saturday, and he was unsure how long the transfer from USC would be out with the injury. Dixon complimented Fuller’s play in O’Bannon’s absence as well.

“He’s been practicing pretty good, so thats a good sign going forward.” Dixon said, “He drove the ball, got in the lane, but he’s got to play without fouling.” Fuller picked up four fouls, including a technical, and was limited in the second half because of it.

The game was truly a tale of two halves, with TCU leading for 18 minutes in the first half, and just three minutes in the second half. TCU shot 50% from the floor while getting out to as large a lead as 40-31 in the first 20 minutes, but struggled from the floor in the second half.

TCU looked sluggish coming out of the break, starting just 1-12 from the floor, not moving the ball well or rotating well on defense. This caused them to foul, give up layups, and take contested shots late in the shot clock.

That was enough for Oklahoma to take control, and over the course of the first six minutes they turned a 42-37 deficit into a 53-46 lead. Nembhard wouldn’t let the Frogs fall farther behind, though, scoring seven of TCU’s next ten points while Miles added a three.

TCU’s 56-55 lead didn’t last long, and an Oklahoma surge put them back ahead 59-56. The Frogs responded once again, and a 7-0 run was capped with a Kevin Samuel putback.

The defense just couldn’t hold though, and the Frogs conceded their 63-59 lead in short order, and never could get back on top.

Ultimately, TCU made too many little mistakes, especially on defense, to come away with the win on Sunday.

“We’re trying to win with freshmen, and we have to grow up and have other guys play smarter too.” said Dixon, “In some ways I’m really disappointed, and in other ways Im really encouraged.”

TCU hosts Providence on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00pm as they look to get back on track.