TCU came within a Desmond Bane flick-of-the-wrist to upsetting the No. 12 West Virginia Mountaineers at Schollmaier Arena Saturday, but Bane missed the shot, leaving TCU with a bitter, one-point defeat, 61-60.
“[On the final play], we wanted Alex [Robinson Jr.] to get to the rim, but he made the right play and the right pass, and we got a great shot by a great shooter,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “He [Bane] was two-of-two- from three before the last shot.”
Alex Robinson Jr. had tied the game after being fouled while shooting a layup, and then proceeded to his one of his two free-throws to tie the game at 60 with 9.1 seconds left.
Then, controversial foul-call broke the tie, as the referees deemed that TCU guard Jaylen Fisher bumped West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr., who attempted a leaning jump-shot on the left base-line, which resulted in Miles Jr. shooting two free throws. Miles Jr. made his first free throw and missed his second, which left TCU with a one-point deficit.
Fisher felt like he played clean defense. “He [Miles Jr.] made a play, I was there, and the official made the call,” Fisher said. “I felt like my hands were straight up, but it went that way.”
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said he didn’t have a good view of the play.
Dixon said the officiating wasn’t the reason for TCU’s loss.
“It’s on us, and we can can’t make excuses,” Dixon said. “21 turnovers is why we were in that position.”
Quite a bit of those Horned Frog turnovers came as a direct or indirect result of West Virginia’s full-court press and half-court traps.
“Against West Virginia, you almost have to slow down but still play to attack,” Dixon said. “It’s different than preparing to play anyone else.”
Another factor in TCU’s fifth straight defeat was their production or lack thereof at the free-throw line. As a team, the Horned Frogs shot 12-20 from the charity stripe, just 60% in a game they lost by a single point.
Dixon’s team was also missing a one its usual starting players, forward JD Miller. Miller, Dixon said, has been dealing with a groin injury, but it didn’t cause Miller to miss practice Friday. he has started in 26 games.
“When he [Miller] got to the stadium, he couldn’t walk, so we had didn’t really have time to prepare to play without him,” Dixon said. “We had enough guys to get it done, but we couldn’t get it done.”
Some of Miller’s teammates didn’t even realize he wasn’t playing until right before tip-off.
“I heard he wasn’t playing right before the game, I thought he was playing,” Alex Robinson Jr. said. “He’s a starter, he’s a great player, and he brings a lot to our team.”
As for the players did that suit up against the Mountaineers, TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher impressed.
“He’s as advertised, and he’s one of the best freshmen in the country,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. “I think Jamie has done a great job with him, he’s good.”
Fisher scored a game-high 18 points, hit three three-pointers, and dished out four assists. He deflected credit to his teammates.
“I think my teammates have been doing a great job of finding me,” Fisher said. “I’ve had confidence, and today the shots fell.”
Now, TCU has to turnaround and prepare to host Kansas State, a team they beat on the road, on senior night Tuesday.
“This was a big game for us, now the next one is our biggest game of the year,” Robinson Jr. said.
TCU’s next game is Tuesday night back in Schollmaier Arena against the Kansas State Wildcats. Tipoff is set for eight p.m.