It was a back-and-forth battle until the very end, but TCU was able to secure a three-point victory over No. 15 Baylor on Saturday with two successful free throws from Jameer Nelson Jr., who scored a team-high 30 points. Nelson shot 11-of-18 from the floor, making 7-of-8 free throw attempts and adding four steals.
Nelson commented afterward that this was his best career performance, and highlighted the unpredictability of conference play, especially in the triple-overtime match.
“I felt like it could have gone anyone’s way in any of those overtimes, honestly,” said Nelson. “From what I learned, that’s the Big 12.”
Baylor initially held the lead in the opening minutes of the first half, and the Bears’ defensive efforts held off TCU until the first lead change at the 12:39 mark when Trey Tennyson knocked down a three, bringing the Frogs up by one, 12-11.
TCU was making 44 percent of their 3-point attempts compared to Baylor’s 22 percent but as the game progressed, the Frogs began missing those game-changing threes, dropping to 33 percent from three.
Baylor tightened up on defense, and a personal foul against TCU’s Essam Mostafa gave Baylor’s Yves Missi the opportunity at one from the line, marking the second lead change with Baylor up 34-33.
Although Baylor hung on by a slim margin with the lead, they were able to hold off the Frogs the entire second half until the 2:44 mark when Chuck O’Bannon hit a three to tie the game at 71-71 for TCU. The game was tied once more with a second 3-pointer from O’Bannon.
O’Bannon emphasized that his focus was being consistent when he hit those crucial 3-pointers to force overtime.
“There’s some games you are going to play, and some that you are not,” said O’Bannon. “You can’t let it take off your mental and you have to stay consistent and believe in yourself.”
The game was pushed into overtime three times, and after a back-and-forth battle, TCU held a one-point advantage in the last second of triple overtime.
With TCU up by one, 103-102, the final play was under review. However, the decision favored TCU with a foul called against Baylor’s RayJ Dennis. Nelson secured the victory with two successful free throws in the last 1.4 seconds.
Miller commented after the game that if matches are this intense in January, with triple overtime, you can only imagine the level of competition in the conference come March.
“Every single possession, you hear the intensity from the fans. You could see the sweat from the refs. You could see the emotion pouring on that court. It’s a triple-overtime game in January. That’s huge. January. It’s not even March yet.”
After an exciting game in Waco, the Horned Frogs will return home to face the No. 20 Texas Tech Raiders. Tip-off is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.