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Men’s Basketball: TCU drops Big 12 opener at No. 2 Kansas on controversial finish

A season-high 24 points from Trevian Tennyson powered the Frogs, but a late flagrant foul on Ernest Udeh Jr. proved costly

TCU v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

TCU Men’s Basketball dropped its Big 12 conference opener on Saturday afternoon, falling to the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks 81-83 in Lawrence’s Allen Fieldhouse. TCU was without its second leading scorer JaKobe Coles, but did get Chuck O’Bannon back on the court after missing the previous game. The game was tightly contested throughout, with neither team leading by more than six points and 26 lead changes. The battle went down to the final possessions as Hunter Dickinson made a layup with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Jayhawks the lead; TCU’s final opportunity was dribbled the length of the court by Jameer Nelson Jr, but his game-winning three-pointer fell short and the Horned Frogs fell to 11-3 on the season and 0-1 in the conference.

The game opened at a high-scoring fast pace, as both teams shot over 50% from the field in the first half. Kansas got all but one of its 41 first half points from the big-time trio of Dickinson, KJ Adams, and Kevin McCullar. For TCU the first half was all about forcing turnovers and Emanuel Miller cooking. Miller had 15 first half points to go with three rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal while playing every minute of the half.

The 2nd Half was the Trevian Tennyson show for the Horned Frogs, catching fire from long range; he finished the game with a season-best 24 points on 75% shooting with six made three-pointers. He also contributed three assists and three steals on Saturday and has taken advantage of his opportunities in the starting lineup the last three games, scoring double-digits in each.

The Horned Frogs continue its long-standing struggles with skilled scoring big men, as TCU allowed 42 points in the paint and got out-rebounded 40-28 on the game. Kansas was able to corral 16 boards on the offensive end, leading to 15 second-chance points while shooting 53% from the field. Many of these metrics would point to a commanding advantage for the Jayhawks, but TCU’s defensive pressure caused all kinds of havoc for the Kansas offense, creating 18 turnovers which the Frogs converted into 22 points. These major advantages from either side canceled each other out and the game was to be decided in the final minute.

With the game tied at 77 with 98 seconds remaining, Jameer Nelson Jr. drained a stepback jumper to give TCU a lead. On Kansas’ following possession, it bled the shot clock and KJ Adams threw up a mid range floater that clanked off the rim back towards him. TCU knocked the ball loose and appeared out on the run, but the officials quickly whistled the ball dead, ruling it an offensive rebound and a jump ball, with the possession arrow favoring Kansas. Bill Self calls a timeout and there are a series of substitutions, including Ernest Udeh Jr. entering the game for Xavier Cork. Out of the timeout, McCullar attempted an entry pass to Dickinson at the free throw line, who was being fronted by Udeh; Udeh intercepted the pass and distributed it forward on the break. Rather than following the play on defense, Dickinson stayed flat on his back until the officials stopped the TCU run out. In getting out-positioned for the entry pass, Dickinson made contact with Udeh and reacted similar to if he had gotten hit in the mouth with a fastball. After stopping the Horned Frog fast break, the officials went in for a slow motion review of the apparent murder scene that Dickinson had sold. Being that this game was played in Allen Fieldhouse, everyone knows how that story played out: it was determined Udeh had committed an intentional egregious act, beyond common basketball activity and beyond common foul activity, giving Kansas two free throws and the ball. The Jayhawks made both free throws and scored with the added possession, meaning the decision of the officials swung the game from TCU ball with a two point advantage to a Kansas two point advantage in the final minute of regulation. Agree with the call or not, it’s unfortunate for such a great game played at such a high level to be so highly influenced by the decision of the officials.

TCU would go on to tie the game at 81 on a Micah Peavy put back layup with under 30 seconds to play. Kansas would again work the clock into the final seconds, this time Dickinson sufficiently pushing Udeh away from him to be able to receive the pass and Peavy arriving too late in support, as a few shuffles and a couple jump stops later Dickinson laid in the go-ahead basket. TCU would have a final opportunity for a heroic finish, but it wasn’t meant to be this time, with perhaps Kansas’ best defensive effort of the game, surrounding Nelson on the ball at the shot attempt and preventing him from getting it Tennyson’s blazing hot hands.

The Horned Frogs (11-3; 0-1) will have little time to dwell on what could have been, as next up TCU will host the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (13-1; 1-0) on Wednesday January 10 at Schollmaier Arena. OU took its conference opener with a 71-63 victory over a previously top-ten NET Iowa State.