“You know, during the stretch I felt good about this team even though we’ve had a long streak of losing some tight games I’ve felt good about it, and their attitude has been tremendous,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said.
A number of different Horned Frogs had quality showings against the Sooners.
“Alex [Robinson Jr.] was terrific, nine assists, no turnovers, and Jaylen [Fisher], they ran the team and both guys, team effort,” Dixon said. “Kenrich [Williams] was terrific and has been doing that and people are starting to realize how good of a player he is, and Vladimir [Brodziansky] let things come to him and finished on the penetration from those guys.”
Brodziansky led all players in scoring with 20 points, Williams notched a Big 12-most 14th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Robinson Jr. finished with 17 points to go along with the nine assists, and Fisher finished with 11 points and four assists.
The Slovakian big man deflected credit to his teammates for his stellar performance.
“My teammates were just finding me open, and I had the easy job just to finish the plays,” Brodziansky said. “We executed and I was wide open.”
The turning point for TCU occurred with four minutes remaining before halftime. It was a 29-29 game that turned into a 44-31 TCU advantage at halftime on the strength of a 15-2 run. TCU forward Kenrich Williams scored seven of the Horned Frog’s fifteen points in their game-altering sprint to end the half.
“It started at the defensive end,” Williams said. We got multiple stops and my teammates did a good job of finding me and getting me open, in open positions for me to make plays.”
Another key component for TCU the use of multiple defenses.
“We noticed when we switched defenses that there was confusion on the offensive end which took a lot of time off the shot clock and disrupted their offense,” TCU guard Alex Robinson Jr. said. “We figured we would stick with that and we just followed whatever Coach told us.”
Dixon said their zone was ‘effective’ as they used different zone looks throughout the game.
With the Round 1 win, TCU has now won its opening game the last three seasons at the Big 12 tournament and will now face No. 1 Kansas Thursday afternoon.
The Horned Frogs lost both matchups, albeit playing the Jayhawks close in an 86-80 loss in Fort Worth on Dec. 30, and TCU trailed by just one at halftime in a slightly less competitive 87-68 loss in Lawrence, Kansas on Feb. 22.
“Obviously they’re terrific, and they’ve got obviously as good of a guard as there is in the country,” Dixon said.
That guard is Kansas’ senior point guard Frank Mason III. Mason III leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game and was voted the unanimously as the conference’s player of the year.
Dixon said handling the Jayhawks’ scoring streaks will be TCU’s biggest test.
“I think just handling their runs will be the biggest challenge and that’s been a challenge for us because sometimes we don’t respond with that next possession,” Dixon said. “They’re terrific,getting a turnover, turning a bad shot into a basket, and we just can’t have that.”
Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Kansas freshman forward Josh Jackson,and the league’s top-scoring freshman at 16.4 points a game will miss Thursday’s matchup, serving a one-game suspension after his role in a traffic incident which resulted in Jackson receiving three citations.
Tipoff for TCU’s second round game against Kansas is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.