TCU Basketball is advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987 with a dominant 69-42 win over 8-seed Seton Hall.
“I can’t speak highly enough about our players and what they did,” said head coach Jamie Dixon. “And we’ve been preaching what we could become, what we have been at times defensively. I think today you saw it for 40 minutes. I thought it was a special effort, special performance.”
This was debatably the most important game for this program in a long, long time. After being picked to finish 8th in the Big 12, overlooked by the AP poll all season, and slotted as a 9-seed; the Frogs proved they belong amongst the best of the best.
What was meant to be a “coin flip” game, at least in the eyes of Vegas (TCU +1, Seton Hall -1), turned out to be a no-contest.
The game started out slow. I mean reaaaaally slow. 5 minutes into the ballgame, we were all tied up at 4 points apiece. If both teams kept the same pace, which Seton Hall nearly did, the ballgame would have ended in a 32-32 tie.
Neither team could hit the broad side of a barn and there was a combined 10 turnovers in five minutes. I’m not sure what to call it, but it sure wasn’t pretty.
Thankfully, the Frogs shook off their March Madness jitters deeper into the first half and entered another dimension. Sure this team has beat Kansas, sure they beat Texas Tech too, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen a better all-around performance from this group. And they did it on the biggest stage in college basketball? This squad is legit.
The Frogs finished right around their season average offensively, ending with 69 points, 0.9 above their average of 68.1. The Frogs’ defense, on the other hand, that defense stole the show.
Led by Damion Baugh, Chuck O’Bannon, and Micah Peavy defensively tonight, the Frogs finished with 7 steals, 3 blocks, and 16 forced turnovers. Because of this ferocity, the Pirates struggled all night to find an open look on goal, which you could probably tell simply on the fact that they scored 42 points all night. Those 42 points mark the fewest points allowed by a Jamie Dixon team since January of 2020.
A huge factor in limiting Seton Hall’s offensive production was shutting down senior guard Jared Rhoden, who is widely considered as the Pirates’ best player. There’s no sugar coating it, Rhoden got locked up. He fouled out of the game around halfway through the second half finishing with only 5 points on 2-for-7 shooting with a pair of turnovers.
Mike Miles had a lot of praise for his teammate Micah Peavy in particular during the post-game presser.
“He’s super important,” said Miles. “On the defensive end, it starts with him. We put him on the best player. Every time he comes in he’s going to try his hardest. He really gets into the best players and makes them uncomfortable.”
Peavy finished the night with 6 points on 100% shooting (3-3) featuring a solo block and steal.
The defense might have been the highlight of the game, but boy did Mike Miles prove his worth in this one. Coming into this matchup, there were a lot of eyes and an immense amount of pressure on the NBA-hopeful guard to perform. After dropping a game-high 21 points, I think it’s safe to say he did his part.
Emmanuel Miller had nothing but praise for his point guard after the win: “I don’t think anyone underestimates Mike,” said Miller. “He’s my boy, so I’ll gaslight him here a little bit. He can hoop. All the players in the country know he can hoop. I’m proud of what he did today.”
Mike Miles extended the praise to the rest of the team: “We obviously have great players, great athletes, E-Man and Micah and everyone on the team,” said Miles. “That’s our biggest attribute. I feel like we can run the floor hard and go up and get rebounds on both ends.”
Well, Mike, you’d be correct. The Frogs outrebounded their opponent for the 27th time this season (36-29), and it proved to be a factor. Although we’re accustomed to seeing the Frogs dominate the boards, this was no walk in the park. The Pirates had 7-foot-2 center Ike Obiagu (4.0 RPG) and 6-foot-10 forward Tyrese Samuel (5.3 RPG) on the court for the majority of the game, but the Frogs essentially eliminated their presence from the game.
When the lead came, it kept on comin’. What was a 30-21 respectable halftime lead quickly turned into a 45-25 rout with nearly the entire second half yet to be played. Although a 20-point lead is a luxury, this is March Madness we’re talking about; anything can happen.
The Frogs did an excellent job of staying poised with the lead and arguably finished the game better than when they started their run.
“I was more proud of how we handled the last four minutes than we did in the first 30,” said Dixon. “That was growing up, and obviously we had a big lead and position to in the game. But how we handled it with our walk-ons in there, with Harry in there, even that mattered to me.”
As Dixon mentioned, Harrison Young and co. were all able to get a chance to touch the court in a March Madness game. Young, Darius Ford, and Cole Despie all saw the court for the final 58 seconds of the game.
Before tipoff, if you were to tell me the Frogs would walk away with a 20+ point win and a chance to have every player see the court, I would have called you crazy, but that’s what happened.
I think it’s about time we become accustomed to TCU Basketball success. Jamie Dixon has proven his worth and the team’s worth time and time again.
Regardless of what happens for the rest of this tournament, this win solidified a massively successful season for TCU Basketball. This group is going to give the 1-seed Wildcats some trouble.
TCU’s March Madness run continues on Sunday at 8:40 pm CST with a matchup against 1-seed Arizona in the Viejas Arena. The game will be broadcast on TNT or can be viewed live on the MM Live app.
As always, it’s a great day to be a Horned Frog.