The group of six left their final contest at Schollmaier Arena with a 66-59 win, improving TCU’s record to 21-9, 9-8 in conference and bringing them to fourth in the Big 12. With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 9-8 in conference and fifth in the Big 12.
The victory means TCU is likely to play in its first NCAA Tournament since 1998. Several TCU seniors said competing in the tournament was their main goal for the season.
“We couldn’t let it slip away like it did last year,” TCU senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky said. “Every time we got a chance to talk about it, we said we have to make the tournament. It was the reason we came here, to turn this program around.”
In the first half, TCU shot 54 percent while K-State made 48 percent of their attempts. By the end of the game, both teams shot under 50 percent with the Horned Frogs at 44 percent and K-State at 47 percent.
K-State also led the game in free throw shooting by just over four percent– TCU hit 15 of 26 attempts, while K-State went 5-8 from the charity stripe.
The Horned Frogs made up for their shooting woes on defense, out-rebounding Kansas State 35-30 and forcing three more turnovers, 19, than they committed, 16. Those 19 turnovers turned into 22 TCU points.
“It was a good win for us because we won it with our defense and rebounding with deflections and loose balls,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said.
The Horned Frogs maintained a lead throughout the first half and were up four at the break. Senior guard Kenrich Williams paced TCU with a team-high nine points and six rebounds. He finished his final home game with a team-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was great,” Williams said. “I got involved early, and my teammates did a good job of finding me. I just wanted to come out and play hard, which is how I want people to remember me when I leave here.”
After TCU forward Kouat Noi slammed home the first two points of the second half, the Wildcats ripped off a run of nine points in a row to claim a 38-35 lead just over two minutes into the second half. The stretch was led by K-State forwards Makol Mawien and Dean Wade.
TCU forward Ahmed Hamdy snapped the Horned Frogs’ dry spell with a breakaway slam dunk. Williams scored TCU’s next seven points, and Hamdy returned the lead to the home team, 47-46, by converting a reverse layup into a three-point play.
K-State guard Barry Brown Jr., the team’s leading scorer this season, picked up his fourth foul on a drive by TCU guard Alex Robinson with 7:05 left to play. Brown Jr. finished with 17 points. The Wildcats struggled to produce outside of Brown and Wade, as the duo scored 41 of the Wildcats’ 59 points while the rest of the team shot 8-29 from the floor.
Following a Mawien tip-in with just over 4:23 on the clock, K-State held a 56-55 lead for almost two minutes.
Then the floodgates opened for the Horned Frogs, who scored nine straight points with a layup and four free throws from guard Desmond Bane and a three-pointer from Brodziansky. With 43 seconds remaining, TCU held an insurmountable eight-point advantage, 64-56.
Dixon said Bane’s defense sparked the rally.
“He is doing more and more stuff than getting up shots,” Dixon said. “He’s getting more steals, deflections and rebounds. He’s become a better defender as we’ve become a better defensive team. That’s what we need.”
The sophomore finished the game with 15 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. He also had a perfect night from the free throw line, going 6-6.
The Horned Frogs hit the road for their final regular season game, heading to Lubbock to try to avenge a 12-point home loss against the Red Raiders.
“Tech is a great team,” Williams said. “They’re a top team in the Big 12. We’re going to have to play hard and get stops like we did tonight.”