In a game where TCU dominated for stretches and led by 18 at one point, it’s disappointing to see how the Frogs came out in the second half and saw the lead ooze out from underneath them as the second half minutes ticked by. Miles and squad were firing on all cylinders in the first half, leading most of the way and building a cushion of nearly 20 points before UT went on a run near the end of the half to trim into the lead. Still, the Frogs were locked in, and seemed to be on track to answer every run from the Horns, consistently quieting the raucous Moody Center crowd with a fast break or big shot of their own. At the half, TCU led by double digits, with Miles leading the way scoring 10 first half points and Damien Baugh filling up the sheet with points, rebounds, and assists.
As the second half got underway, the TCU defensive intensity was still there, and credit UT for working to limit turnovers, but the offense found themselves working primarily half court sets, requiring the team to grind possessions and take shots that weren’t as efficient as fast beak layups and dunks; the effects of which rippled out as TCU failed to hit shots early in the second half, leading to more rebounds for the Horns, more efficient offensive possessions for UT, and more effort expended on the defensive end of the court. As a result, UT chipped into the lead, got easier and easier buckets near the rim, and TCU struggled to answer on their end of the court. Over halfway through the second half, Miles had mustered 2 additional points and the double digit lead was gone. Still, with their characteristic grit and grind attitude, TCU worked to answer the UT runs, and every time they trimmed the lead to a single possession, it seemed the Frogs could hit a shot to extend the lead to two possessions. Nearing the end of the game Carr drilled a huge midrange jumper, hit the Dame Time celly, but Miles followed up with a nearly identical jumper of his own and it felt like TCU was going to hang tight to squeeze a win out in front of the UT home base. But, when it came down to it, the Frogs yielded another big shot, and couldn’t come up with a key rebound to give the offense a shot to push the game to overtime.
It’s hard to look on the bright side this week, and after starting conference play 2-0, the Frogs now find themselves in a precarious position to remain tournament eligible, but some positive takeaways from the game: first, TCU and their ability to run the court, especially with turnovers, is tough to beat. As long as they can force tough shots and generate turnovers, you have to like the team running the court. Also, at a time when Miles hit a wall and struggled to produce, it was Emmanuel Miller stepping up and scoring 21, finding ways to get to the line and keeping the game just beyond reach at times.
And, because commiserating is in this week, the bad: primarily, the team has struggled to close our conference opponents the past two games—which is not totally unexpected in the beefy Big 12–but we’d love to see the Frogs grab and hold onto a lead especially in these meaningful conference games. Second, Walker and Wells are very obvious weak links in the TCU rotation. Not having Peavy made it an inevitability last night, but Dixon and staff need to try and find some other solutions there. Both players look overwhelmed on the court, make suspect playmaking decisions, and generally are overmatched at all times. Lastly, at a time where TCU could have set the pace in conference play, we now sit at .500, and desperately needing to sweep a few conference opponents (KSU, WVU) to keep pace in the nations most difficult basketball conference schedule.
TCU continues conference play at home in the Scholly on Saturday afternoon, taking on a hot Kansas State team that’s 15-1 and looking to make waves in the Big 12. The energy and crowd will need to be high; hopefully we can turn the tide on one of the schools darkest sports weeks, possibly of all time.