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Kansas State 75, TCU 63: Frogs fall short without Miles

TCU couldn’t overcome a poor defensive effort and their missing star against the Wildcats.

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

TCU couldn’t overcome the absence of Mike Miles on Saturday night, falling to Kansas State at home 75-63. Damion Baugh led the Frogs with 17 points, Francisco Farabello added 14 points and four assists, while Emanuel Miller totaled 13 points and eight rebounds.

But defensively the Frogs were a step slow the majority of the night, and both the players and coaches acknowledged that afterward.

“I think out defense was the main problem, not our offense,” Farabello said after the game.

“If {Mike} is out, we’ve got to defend, and we didn’t defend,” Dixon said. “We got what we deserved.”

TCU gave up ten offensive rebounds and 32 points in the paint to the Wildcats, a team not particularly known for rebounding and getting inside.

Offensively, TCU shot 28 threes and made just six, and the free throw shooting abandoned them once again. TCU is now shooting just 29.4% from deep this season, and Dixon mentioned after the game that 28 attempts is too many.

“Half of our shots were threes,” Dixon mentioned. “That’s not us.”

The Frogs’ slow step on defense started from the jump. Two won the tip and after two misses at the rim, Miller pulled down an offensive rebound and put it in for a 2-0 lead. That would be the Frogs’ only lead of the contest.

From there, Kansas State out-worked and out-muscled TCU, putting together a 13-5 run that included five layups.

Baugh responded with three pointers from each corner, but no other Horned Frog made more than one basket in the first 10+ minutes of the game, allowing Kansas State to roll out to a 26-16 lead at the 7:33 mark of the first half.

In fact, only Baugh, Miller, and Chuck O’Bannon scored points for the Frogs until Farabello made a three with just 3:26 remaining in the half.

TCU’s offense all season has been predicated on good ball movement, penetration into the lane, and good cutting to the basket. On Saturday night all three were absent for large portions of the game, as shooters settled for threes and bad mid-range jump shots late in the shot clock.

Ten first half turnovers didn’t help much either, as the main Achilles heel for this team reared its ugly head. When all of that added up, TCU trailed the Wildcats 35-28 at the half.

TCU came out with a different energy in the second half and it paid dividends immediately. Eddie Lampkin hit a baby hook in the post, Baugh slashed to the rim for a layup, and Emanuel Miller made two baskets around the rim, including one after a strong offensive rebound to get the crowd on their feet.

The 9-4 run to open the half cut into Kansas State’s lead, and the Frogs trailed just 39-37 with 16:07 left in the contest. Kansas State responded, and the Wildcats went on an 11-2 run of their own over the course of the next several minutes.

Two big threes, one from Ismael Massoud and one from Nijel Pack, helped the cause for Kansas State as TCU’s defense went into scramble mode.

For such a good defensive team, it’s baffling how much TCU’s defense struggles for periods of time. On Saturday night they were a step slow at the beginning the game, and again at critical moments int he second half.

After getting to within two, TCU never again got closer than seven points, as Kansas State responded to every attempt the Frogs made to get back into the game.

And yet, near the end of the contest TCU seemingly had a chance to pull off a miracle.

Trailing 68-57 with just under two minutes remaining, Farabello drove and spun in the lane, making the tough shot and drawing a foul. He made the free throw, bringing TCU to within eight with 1:57 left on the game clock.

Down at the other end, Chuck O’Bannon recorded a block, and then drew a foul. With Kansas State in the double bonus, O’Bannon went to the free throw line but made just one of two.

Kansas State, leading 68-61, crumbled under TCU’s full court pressure, and then immediately fouled Damion Baugh. Baugh, who had a solid night overall, missed both of his free throw attempts.

On the other end the Frogs were forced to foul, and Kansas State converted.

Had TCU been able to make it a four point game, with an energized home crowd of over 7,500 people, the game might have ended differently. Instead, the Frogs were forced to foul and shoot desperation threes, and are now just 1-3 at home in Big 12 play.

When asked afterward if Mike Miles will be available for TCU’s home game Tuesday against Oklahoma State, Dixon said “I don’t know.”

What is known is that TCU had an opportunity to get one without their best player, but too many threes and defensive lapses handcuffed them in the end.

The Frogs host the Cowboys on Tuesday at 7pm, looking to get back on track. TCU has yet to lose consecutive games this season, a streak that could continue with a cleaner performance.

TCU is looking forward to the challenge of playing Oklahoma State, who stole a one-point win from the Frogs up in Stillwater just a few weeks ago.

“Just to play them is everything,” Miller said of getting a chance to redeem themselves after the loss to Oklahoma State, “We know we have to hit them from the start.”

“You can’t take any days off, so playing them again and getting the rematch, is going to be thrilling.”

Watch the full postgame interviews right here: