Eight of TCU’s ten losses to Big 12 teams this season have been by six points or fewer.
Almost every statistic was nearly identical between the two teams as they both shot 46 percent from the field, hauled in 33 rebounds, and the Wildcats scored just two more points in the paint, 32-30, than the Horned Frogs.
“Ultimately our defense has not been what I wanted it to be,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s improved, but still not where it needs to be to finish things off. We shot 46 percent, and we were way up on the rebounds, but it turned the other way in the second half: they were way more physical than us, that was evident.”
The Horned Frogs missed 7 of its 14 looks at the charity stripe to the Wildcats 11 of 17 and TCU gave away the basketball three more times, 14, than KSU, 11.
“It’s the free throws hurting us and today was turnovers,” Dixon said. “We were leading the conference in lowest turnovers, lowest in the country, and that’s been hurting us now.
Robinson sprinted downcourt with the Horned Frogs trailing by three with the time running out, and he found guard Desmond Bane on the right wing. Bane collected the pass and elevated into a buzzer-beating three-pointer that left his fingertips moments before the clock zero, sending TCU and Kansas State into overtime tied at 59.
“Everybody collapsed on men and I saw Kenrich and Desmond over there and the guy was closing out on Kenrich so I skipped it through the corner to Desmond,” TCU guard Alex Robinson said.
The sophomore’s buzzer-beater was the only shot he made after he missed his first three attempts and then he fouled out early in overtime. Bane also added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.
The Horned Frogs relied on its seniors to keep it afloat in overtime as forward Vladimir Brodziansky and guard Kenrich Williams hit on five of their six free throw attempts, which left their matchup with the Wildcats even at 64 with 34.5 seconds remaining.
Wildcat guard Barry Brown converted on a layup through contact from Horned Frog guard Shawn Olden, but he missed the free throw, leaving a window of opportunity for TCU.
TCU guard Alex Robinson capitalized, drawing a foul on KSU forward Makol Mawien, which gave him a chance to send the contest into a second overtime, as the Horned Frogs were down two, 66-64, with 1.5 seconds left. However, the junior’s first attempt rolled around the rim before hitting the ground. Robinson missed the second attempt intentionally to try to create a put-back layup chance, but Wildcat forward Xavier Sneed grabbed the rebound as the clock hit zero, ending the Horned Frogs’ time at the Big 12 Tournament.
Williams led TCU, earning his 13th double-double this season and 34th of his career with game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Brodziansky ended up with 13 points, just three after halftime, and seven rebounds.
“Their philosophy, what they did to Vlad was clear, and we knew it was coming, but they were clearly more physical than us, especially in the second half. ” Dixon said. “We wanted to get him more touches, but they were fronting the post, throwing two bodies, sometimes three at him.”
Robinson concluded the contest with 16 points and six assists, making a career-high three shots from behind the three-point line to go along with a career-high three steals. However, he hit on just one of his five free throw attempts.
“I just have to move on and continue to work to get better and learn from the situation,” he said talking about his struggles from the line.
Dixon said TCU’s mistakes piled up throughout the game.
“A couple bad shots and turnovers, we look at bad shots as turnovers, and they got to the foul line,” Dixon said. “We couldn’t let them get more free throws than they got and they got more than we got. “So I think those are the things that stand out.
Now, the Horned Frogs wait until Sunday to learn where they play next in the postseason.
“We put ourselves in good position and we feel we should have won these last two games down the stretch, but we didn’t,” Dixon said. “It’s two of the same things: shot selection, a little bit late when he had the leads and the foul line, got to get to the foul line more times than our opponent and make more free throws. That’s a big goal for us.”