Texas Tech second-half comeback snaps men’s basketball’s four-game winning streak

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Guards Desmond Bane and Kenrich Williams led the Horned Frogs to a hot start in Lubbock Saturday but cold shooting down the stretch and Texas Tech guard Keenan Evans’ 23 second-half points halted TCU’s four-game winning streak, 79-75.

“Good win for Texas Tech,”  TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “A tough loss obviously with having the lead we had.  Tough to give that up and Keenan Evans just kept getting to the free throw line down the stretch in the second half. That’s what we talked about: we said we didn’t want him to get to the line, but that’s what he did, so give him credit for doing what he did.”

TCU shutout Tech’s Evans, the No. 3 scorer in the Big 12 at 17.2 points per game, in the first half, as he missed both of his shots and didn’t shoot any free throws after picking up a couple quick fouls.

TCU guard Shawn Olden (2) blocks Texas Tech guard Keenan Evan’s (23) floater. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

The second half was a different story. The senior made all 10 of his free attempts and hit six of his nine field goal attempts en route to his game-high 23 points.

“Anybody who gets 10 free throws in the half, good things are going to happen and he got to the basket a lot with drives so we had to put different guys on him because of the foul trouble,” Dixon said. “He just kept getting to the line and made 10, and 10 free throws in a half is a high, high number.”

However, the Horned Frogs started strong against the Red Raiders, jumping out to a 12-point advantage, 24-12, with 9:57 left in the first half. TCU established early dominance on the glass, out-rebounding Texas Tech by 10, 16-6, and out-shooting them behind the arc by hitting three of their first seven three-pointers while the Red Raiders only made one of their first four throughout the first 10 minutes of action.

“We’ve just really been emphasizing that this season because early in Big 12 play we got off to some slow starts so we’re not letting us do that anymore and that mindset allowed us to jump out to a quick start,” Bane said. 

TCU guard Desmond Bane drives to the rim against a Texas Tech defender. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

The Red Raiders would respond, scoring 23 of the last 39 points in the half, which closed the Horned Frog advantage to five, 40-35, at the break.

Fouls also plagued the Frogs with forward Vladimir Brodziansky and guard Alex Robinson each called for two fouls, and guard Shawn Olden called for three.

“We were in foul trouble and I think that’s what hurt us down the end of the first half,” Dixon said. “Our eight-man rotation is a challenge when Alex and Shawn have foul trouble.”

Bane lead all players in scoring at the half with 15 points, and Williams closed in on his twelfth double-double, finishing the first half with 11 points and eight rebounds. The Horned Frogs also had a significant boost in rebounding, hauling 10 more boards than the Red Raiders, 22-12.

Texas Tech would eventually come all the way back, tying the game up at 49 with 14:38 remaining on an Evans’ three-point play conversion following a tough layup in traffic over TCU forward Ahmed Hamdy. The Red Raiders grabbed their first lead, 53-52, following a layup from guard Zhaire Smith with 13:25 left to play.

Throughout the rest of the game, the two teams stayed within six points of each other, but Evans second-half scoring outburst and the Horned Frogs’ cold shooting ultimately doomed TCU.

“I thought our offense was good but we didn’t shoot it great,” Dixon said. “I think in a normal game we’re not shooting five of 23 from three.”

Even though TCU missed nine of their last 13 field goal attempts and four of their last six to end the game, Dixon said offense wasn’t the issue Saturday.

“We’re going to look at our defense as the issue as to why we didn’t get it done because they shot 50 percent overall, 46 percent from three and 79 percent from the line with way too many free throws,” Dixon said.

Four Horned Frogs, Bane, Williams, Brodziansky, Robinson, scored in double-digits Saturday. Bane finished with a team-high 21 points, his third game this season over 20. He has had 10 or more points in 12-straight games.

Robinson scored 11 and finished with a team-high seven assists, becoming the seventh player in TCU history with over 400 career assists. At 404, Robinson ranks seventh all-time.

Williams notched his twelfth double-double this season and the thirty-third of his career with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. He moved past James Cash for fourth in career rebounds at TCU with 859.

Brodziansky had 16 points, moving into the No. 11 spot on TCU’s career scoring list past Mike Jones with 1,338 points as well as 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and the seventh double-double of his career.

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The loss dropped TCU to fifth in the Big 12 with a 21-10 overall record and a 9-9 conference record.

“We were feeling good, but we lost so now we don’t,” Dixon said. “It’s amazing how one game can change everything. I feel good about where we’re at, but we have to find a way to get better defensively these next few days.”

Now the Horned Frogs head to Kansas City for the Big 12 Conference Tournament. TCU, the No. 5 seed, will face No. 4 seed, Kansas State, in the second round of the tournament Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Each of the two teams won the matchup when playing at home.