For the first 19 minutes and 59 seconds, it looked like the Horned Frogs were going to bother the Bears, but not quite have enough to take them over the top in their second top ten matchup of the week.
But a Mike Miles three quarter court banked in three at the first half buzzer had Frog fans thinking upset, as they headed into the locker room with a 28-27 lead.
Mike Miles from Houston and TCU leads No. 2 Baylor at half pic.twitter.com/uF9Fntfmzn— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) January 9, 2021
He was pretty chill about the shot after, saying “it wasn’t that far” and claiming he knew it was going in. “I aimed for the backboard. I’ve shot that shot a lot of times, so I was confident it was going in.”
After being shut out by Kansas earlier in the week, Miles delivered Saturday afternoon, dropping 15 points in the first 20 minutes to send Baylor to halftime trailing for the first time this season. Miles’ effort was about all that kept the Frogs in the game through the first 20 minutes, with RJ Nembhard relegated to the bench with two quick fouls after scoring just five points and the rest of the team combining for just eight points across five players. TCU went into the break having shot just 33% (7-21), but were right with the country’s number two team thanks to an incredible effort from the free throw line (10-13) and a 21-12 rebounding advantage. The pace was slow, the offense was ugly, and the shots weren’t falling — exactly what the Horned Frogs needed to have a chance Saturday afternoon.
Out of the break, the Frogs offensive struggles continued, but Baylor got rolling. The Bears drew five fouls in the first 90 or so seconds of play, and would end the frame with a 14 to 5 free throw attempt advantage. “The second half, they just took it to us on both ends of the floor,” Jamie Dixon said after the game. Not a single Frog scored in double digits in the final 20 minutes; RJ was close with nine, but many of those came on stat stuffers with the result already well in hand. Dixon expected his team to respond after Tuesday’s blowout loss at the hands of Kansas, and they did — for 20 minutes. “What we have to understand is that what we can do for one half, we can do for two halves.” As he has for all of this season, Dixon fell on his sword postgame and let the blame for the offensive issues fall on him. “I’ve got to call better stuff, put them in a better position.” But, while the motion offense can get stagnant at times — especially when the deep ball isn’t falling — this isn’t just about sets, it’s about young players learning to adjust and be more physical in one of the country’s most physical conferences. Baylor out-muscled guys in the half court on both ends of the floor, and while the Frogs out-rebounded the Bears 38-32 on the game, BU was the far more aggressive team when it came to getting themselves open and not allowing the Frogs to do the same. “They were physical in denying us,” Dixon said. “We seemed to be attacking more, getting to the basket more in the first half, they did that in the second half.” Settling in the second half led to another disappointing result, as TCU scored just 21 points in the final 20 minutes, making just eight field goals in 24 attempts and getting to the free throw line five times. Meanwhile, Baylor drew a flurry of fouls early and converted on 7-14 of them, as Jared Butler led his team with 16 of his game-high 28 points, while adding eight total rebounds and four assists. The Horned Frogs turned it over 22 times and the Bears capitalized with 19 points off of them. BU dominated the scoring in the paint 26-16 and had more second chance points (14-9) despite the Frogs out-rebounding them on the offensive end (9-11).
For young players like Mike Miles, who finished with 17 points (despite shooting just 3-11 from the floor), these are the games he came to TCU to play, even if the result was disappointing. “Oh it’s a grind, it’s tough. Lot of great teams — every team in this conference is good. That’s what I came here for, to play great players and great teams.”
There will be plenty of opportunities to continue to play both good players and good teams as the season rolls on, and the Horned Frogs will have work to do if they want to compete week in and week out.
“It’s disappointing,” Dixon said. “We played hard, but we’ve got to execute better.”