The game started as a defensive battle, but only one team held up the pressure in that aspect past the first few minutes.
For a while, it looked like TCU was going to hang tough with #18 Texas Tech in Lubbock, but too many turnovers turned in to too many easy opportunities for the Red Raiders, who took advantage of their opportunities to jump out to a big first half lead.
The Horned Frogs struggled shooting the ball through the first 20 minutes; TCU was led by two Chuck O’Bannon threes, but the rest of the team was 0-6 from behind the arc and shot just 36% from the field. Meanwhile, Tech lit it up: 50% from deep and nearly 50% from the floor, as they out-rebounded TCU 19-12 and had 11 assists to the Frogs’ 3. No player other than O’Bannon had more than four points, while Kyler Edwards had 17 for Tech on 6-7 shooting, nearly outscoring the entire TCU squad through the first 20 minutes of play by himself.
The second half didn’t go much better; Mike Miles had to exit just a few minutes in after tweaking an ankle trying to draw a charge — and while he would return, the Frogs would be well out of contention by that point.
Jamie Dixon has often spoke of his team needing to win the rebounding battle and the battle of 50/50 balls: they did neither Tuesday night as the Red Raiders dominated every aspect of play in front of their home crowd. A seven minute and thirty second scoreless stretch that allowed Tech to build their lead to as many as 23 was punctuated by Mike Miles having to exit again, and this time for good, as the freshman point guard crumpled while trapped and went straight to the bench as the whistle blew for a tied ball. By the time he re-entered the game, the lead was up to 24 and the game was well out of hand. Unfortunately for Dixon and TCU, “we were running out of guys on the perimeter. We didn’t have anyone else to go to”, hence why Miles returned twice after aggravating the ankle injury.
For Jamie Dixon, the result was surprising to say the least. After the game, he referenced that Tech had lost three of their last four, and thought his team had all the motivation that they needed to compete. It wasn’t that they didn’t respect the Red Raiders — it’s that they needed this one badly, and should have played hungry.
That didn’t happen.
“This was not good,” and understated Dixon said. “This was a game we have to win, should win, better win — we didn’t play like it. We didn’t play like we believed that we could win.”
It was a light show in the second half, as Tech shot over 50% from the field and drained two more threes. Though the Frogs cut the rebounding gap — they would finish with 28 to the Red Raiders’ 33 — there was a distinct difference between the team that needed this game and team treading water until the conference tournament. That was frustrating to the head coach. “We’re a better team than this. We’ve got to respond. We’ve got a quick turnaround and we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to follow the game plan. We just don’t get it.”
The telling line? “We got what we deserved.”
The good news for disappointed fans is that this is a performance that is still considered disappointing: neither Jamie Dixon nor his players have given up on the season, even if it feels like they are giving u in games. Dixon believes they can turn the tide down the stretch. “We have got to make this about ourselves. We have to decide who we are and who we want to be.”
RJ Nembhard led the Frogs with 10 points, Jaedon LeDee had eight points and six rebounds, and Kevin Samuel had six and four. The Frogs shot just 39% from the field and their 15 turnovers led to 18 Red Raider points. The Frogs had just seven assists on the night.
Meanwhile, Tech had 11 players play and 10 score — five with at least seven — and their victory cigar freshman Goldin had a career high seven minutes. But, at least, as Jamie Dixon said — the Frogs’ free throw line defense was pretty good (the Red Raiders were just 5-10 from the stripe).
The TL;DR: TCU held leading scorer Mac McClung to just four points and lost by 20.
I don’t know what else to say.