An overtime battle on the road broke TCU’s winning streak, with the Horned Frogs falling to the Cincinnati Bearcats 81-77. Trey Tennyson led the team with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists. TCU held the lead in the first half and completed 13-of-29 from the field, made 6-of-11 three-pointers, and committed only seven turnovers in the first half.
Cincinnati put up a fight, and with 5:49 left in the first half, the Bearcats came back from a nine-point deficit. Simad Lukosius made a layup that shifted the dynamic of the Bearcats’ game, followed by a completed jumper by Josh Reed, bringing the score to 29-24.
With the contributions of John Newman III, Viktor Lakhin, and Dan Skillings Jr., they were able to bring the Bearcats to a one-point deficit going into the locker room, with a score of 33-32.
As the team has emphasized previously, anything can transpire in the Big 12. Jameer Nelson Jr. further highlighted the unpredictability in this league, especially concerning leads and the tenacity required to maintain them.
“Once you secure a lead, you have to keep it because that other team is coming regardless who it is in the league,” said Nelson. “Everybody is good, everybody is tough, and everyone is trying to rebound and defend hard.”
Cincinnati gained its first lead of the night early in the second half after Lakhin made a two-point tip shot, bringing the score to 34-33. However, TCU quickly regained the lead after a three-pointer from Tennyson, making it 39-38.
Skillings made the game interesting with 5:02 to go by converting a layup that brought the game within four points, 64-60. Neither team was able to score for over a three-minute period.
The third lead change of the game occurred in the last 45 seconds when Day Day Thomas hit a three, bringing the score to 65-64. However, Tennyson, showcasing his effectiveness in crunch moments, hit another significant three, giving TCU the lead back with 24 seconds on the clock.
Thomas forced the game into overtime with a successful layup in the last 11 seconds, tying the score at 67-67.
Head Coach Jamie Dixon expressed he liked the way the team played in the first half but was disappointed with the flat performance in the second half.
“I loved the way we started the game, offensively, the ball really moved, got out into space, and found open guys,” said Dixon. “But we never quite got in that rhythm in the second half. I have to fix that and it is also the decisions we are making, that’s on me.”
Dixon emphasized that he and his staff have extensively communicated with the team about the critical importance of maintaining a high level of effort during crucial moments, especially in time and score situations similar to those they’ve encountered down the stretch. It is anticipated that the team trailing will have a more aggressive approach and potentially overplay.
“We’ve talked about that more where you get a lead and you have to have the ability to grind them out and know that the overplay, the gamble is coming and make them pay for it,” said Dixon. “We’ve discussed that. We should have been better but we weren’t.”
In overtime, the game was deadlocked at 77-77 with 40 seconds remaining. Two fouls were called against Emanuel Miller and Tennyson, providing the Bearcats with two opportunities to secure the victory. John Newman III and Thomas capitalized on both attempts, ultimately sealing the overtime win.
Dixon stated that this game served as a valuable learning experience, expressing confidence that his team will respond well, as they have done in similar situations before.
“I think we will get better because of this and we aren’t going to use any excuses,” said Dixon. “We have to be better and we have responded in situations like this a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t make excuses and we got it done. And now we have to go do it again. I believe in these guys.”
TCU returned to action on Saturday in the Schollmaier Arena as they host No. 24 Iowa State, tip-off is at 1 p.m.