TCU falls in heartbreaker at West Virginia in triple overtime, 104-96

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In Jamie Dixon’s 100th game as head coach, TCU basketball fell just short of a much-needed win against West Virginia, losing 104-96 in triple overtime.

This was the first triple overtime game for the Horned Frogs since 2009, when they defeated Texas State 108-99.

TCU kept the game close for most of the game, but 24 turnovers by the Horned Frogs and 19 second-chance points by West Virginia proved too much to overcome, especially in the third overtime.

After TCU jumped out to an early lead, a 9-2 run by the Mountaineers gave them a 13-10 lead midway through the first half. 

The game went back and forth from there. With the teams shooting a combined 20 percent from deep, neither side was able to gain much breathing room.

A lay-up by Mountaineers’ forward Lamont West just before halftime gave West Virginia their largest lead of the game to that point at 36-30.

Unphased by their deficit, the Horned Frogs came out swinging in the second half. A three by forward JD Miller on the assist from point guard Alex Robinson tied the game at 42-42 with just 14:40 left in the game.

The tie was followed by a span of almost two minutes where neither team was able to convert good looks into points. During that span, the Mountaineers missed seven-straight shots, and the Horned Frogs committed three turnovers.

TCU then produced the play of the game, with Robinson hitting guard Kendric Davis on a fast break with a no-look pass between his legs to put the Horned Frogs up 47-45 — their first lead in almost 20 minutes of play.

Any time TCU looked like they were taking control, West Virginia would remind the Horned Frogs why the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown is one of the hardest places to play in the country.

With center Kevin Samuel on the bench for TCU the majority of the second half with four fouls, the Mountaineers feasted on the Horned Frogs’ defense. 

After only scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the first matchup between the two teams, West Virginia forward Derek Culver totaled 22 points and 20 rebounds, 16 and 13 of which, respectively, came after the first half.

This dominance gave the Mountaineers a 68-62 lead with just 1:59 left to play. However, while the Horned Frogs were shooting just 24 percent from behind the arc in the contest, it would be three-point shooting that would give them life.

Back-to-back threes by Miller and guard Desmond Bane tied the game at 68-68 with 58 seconds left.

While TCU had a chance to shoot for the win with 12 seconds left, a turnover by Bane gave West Virginia guard Jordan McCabe a shot for the win at the buzzer. The shot bounced off the rim and the game headed into overtime.

The game remained tense in overtime, with neither team taking a lead greater than three. After the Mountaineers tied the game at 77-77 with 40 seconds left, the Horned Frogs were unable to score, and McCabe missed once again at the horn. 

As if it was scripted, the second overtime looked almost identical to the first, with the teams answering each other’s scores almost immediately.  With the game tied 88-88, Culver’s point-blank layup rolled in-and-out to send the Horned Frogs to triple overtime for the first time in a decade.

Forward Kouat Noi had fouled out midway through the period, leaving the Horned Frogs with just five rotation players available. Noi finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

In the third overtime, TCU fell apart, surrendering an 8-0 run to West Virginia midway through the period to put the game away. 

Freshman guard Jordan McCabe had been stellar all night for the Mountaineers, leading all scorers with 25 points, 13 of which came in the three overtimes.

Miller scored a season-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including three made three-pointers.

The matchup was West Virgnia’s first win since Feb. 2, while TCU has now lost four of their last five games.

JD Miller scores a season-high with 24 points. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

With the loss, the Horned Frogs will be in desperate need of a win in at least one of their three remaining games, two of which (Texas Tech, Kansas State) are against a ranked opponent.

For now, TCU returns to Fort Worth for a matchup with No. 11 Texas Tech.  Tipoff is scheduled at 3 p.m. on March 2.