“That’s a long time, and it’s always a good feeling to get two wins because it’s hard to sweep anybody in the Big 12,” TCU guard Alex Robinson said. “They’ve been on a good stretch, five out six, so this is a big win for us.”
The Horned Frogs have reached 20 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign when they won 20 for the third-straight season. That bodes well for the Horned Frogs attempt at an NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
“If you do those things, there hasn’t been someone to not make it from a Power 5, but our metrics continue to go up into the teen’s,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’re in a good spot, lost some tough ones early, but I like where we’re at considering we lost a player [Jaylen Fisher] who was playing 35 minutes a game.
Saturday’s contest between the I-35 rivals appeared to be another hard-fought duel from the start after a layup from Baylor guard Jake Lindsey cut the TCU lead to two, 12-10, with 12:14 left in the first half.
However, the Horned Frogs, not wanting a second overtime battle with the Bears, sprinted ahead with a 13-4 run in which they hit six straight shots starting with a Shawn Olden three-pointer and ending with a Kouat Noi fast break lay-in. The stretch in which five different players scored gave TCU an 11-point advantage, 25-14, with 8:29 left before halftime.
TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky led all scorers at the half with nine, and the Horned Frogs out-rebounded the Bears by three, 18-15. Brodziansky would finish with 14 points.
Alex Robinson had seven points and three assists. Robinson ended up with a game-high 22 points and six assists by making all five of his shots in the second half.
“He got in the lane a lot, which is something he had been doing,” Dixon said of Robinson’s outing. “Some teams are playing him to pass, and he’s making more drives and finishes to the rim.”
Baylor shot a slightly higher field goal percentage, 43.3 to 40.7, in the first 20 minutes. TCU started strong from distance, making four of their first nine three’s before finishing missing its last six attempts to conclude the first half. Horned Frog guard Shawn Olden came off the bench to make both 3 attempts. The Bears went 0-2 from beyond the arc.
After the game was all knotted up at 59, a 9-2 TCU run powered by two free throws from Robinson, mid-range jumpers by Kenrich Williams and Desmond Bane, plus a three-pointer from the left corner by Kouat Noi gave the Horned Frogs a seven-point cushion, 68-61, with 5:51 left in the game. Noi hit three shots from beyond the arc to finish with 11 points and five rebounds, and Williams had just four points to go along with seven rebounds.
Baylor then cut the lead down to three, 68-65, but TCU outscored the Bears by seven, 14-7, to close out an 82-72 victory. Bane scored 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
“Desmond was terrific,” Dixon said. “His numbers are just another 16-point game, four of seven from the field, it’s remarkable what he’s doing as a guard, shooting 55 or 56 percent.”
The Horned Frogs out-rebounded the Bears by five, 34-29. Dixon gave a glowing review of the sophomore’s performance.
“The ball just happened to bounce my way today,” TCU guard Desmond Bane said. “We were boxing out, and I flew in to get some boards, stealing some from A-Rob.”
TCU hosts Kansas State on Senior Tuesday for the Horned Frogs’ final regular season home tilt. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. A win for the home team would likely cement its place in the NCAA Field of 64.