Welcome to March! There was a storm brewing in Fort Worth Wednesday night, as the #9 Texas Longhorns entered Schollmaier Arena with dreams of winning a share of the Big 12 regular season championship, but left with a start-to-finish defeat at the hands of the Horned Frogs. It was quite literally a start-to-finish win for TCU, as Damion Baugh created a steal off of the opening tip and brought it home for a bucket giving the Frogs a lead it would not concede for the remaining 39:51 of game time.
TCU’s star PG Mike Miles was coming off a stellar performance on Saturday in Lubbock, where he contributed 24 points, but against Texas he struggled through one of the worst games of his career. Miles scored just a single point, making 1-2 FTs, while shooting 0-8 from the field with 5 turnovers. Despite the rare off night from Miles, there were plenty of teammates ready to shoulder the load for the Frogs. Damion Baugh submitted a heroic performance, scoring a career-high 24 points, on 58% shooting and a perfect 8-8 on free throws, while filling up the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals. While Baugh’s scoring is the headline, his elite court vision and ball distribution was dazzling against the Longhorns: finding a cutting Wells and Peavy for easy buckets, kicking to Peavy and O’Bannon for three-pointers. Emanuel Miller was similarly superb, with a double-double on 20 points and 10 rebounds, including an emphatic game-sealing slam in the final seconds to put an exclamation point on the TCU victory
TCU came out on fire from the field in the first half, shooting over 62% and 4-8 on three-point shots in the opening period to run out to a lead as high as 16 points, going into the break up 12. It had a feeling of deja vu to these teams’ contest in Austin in January where the Frogs sprinted to an 18-point advantage, leading by 13 at half before eventually falling behind down the stretch. The 2nd half featured a lot of sloppy basketball from TCU, with 11 turnovers and 29% shooting from the field. It was TCU’s worst turnover game of the season, giving away possession 22 times which generated 27 Texas points off those turnovers. Thankfully for the TCU, the Longhorns were never able to get rolling offensively either, as the Horned Frog defense held the ‘Horns to 39% shooting. Where TCU truly won the game was down low: dominating interior scoring with a 36-26 points in the paint advantage; seven Frogs had four or more rebounds, outrebounding the Longhorns 46-28.
While Baugh & Miller were the stars of the night, TCU got huge contributions from across the lineup to pick up the squad on Miles’ down game. Chuck O’Bannon had a crucial 2nd half 3-pointer and secured an offensive rebound in the final minute that prevented Texas from having an opportunity at a game-tying shot, forcing the Longhorns to foul Damion Baugh with 20 seconds remaining. Micah Peavy drained two shots from distance and was a defensive meance. Eddie Lampkin had a monster and-one jam. Coles and Cork and Wells each gave the Frogs major efforts that contributed to the win. It took a team effort to earn the Top-10 victory on Wednesday night and the Frogs turned in an excellent group effort to take the win and send the students storming the Schollmaier Arena court on Senior Night.
The Longhorns’ (22-8; 11-6 Big 12) hopes at a conference title and a potential #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament were dashed with the loss in Fort Worth. Texas will look to break out of a three-way tie (with Kansas State and Baylor) for 2nd in the Big 12, hosting the league champion Kansas Jayhawks in Austin on Saturday afternoon on ESPN.
TCU (20-10; 9-8 Big 12) will close the regular season on ESPN+ on Saturday afternoon in Norman against a Sooners squad currently stuck in the Big 12 basement. A win Saturday would give TCU a winning record in conference play and lock in the 5-seed in the Big 12 Tournament. A TCU loss and an Iowa State win in Waco would drop TCU to the 6-seed. Either result would have TCU taking on one of Kansas State, Baylor, or Texas in its opening game in Kansas City, each of which the Frogs split the season series.