Boasting a 9-2 record entering its toughest matchup this season, TCU basketball was riding high and looking to pull off an upset over No. 6 Kansas on Tuesday night.
What followed was a brutal reminder to the Horned Frogs about just how tough it is to play in the Big 12 conference.
“They punched us in the face early, and we certainly didn’t respond throughout,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “I didn’t see it coming.”
TCU looked outmatched all night, as Kansas followed its 25-point loss to Texas last Saturday with a 93-64 defeat of the Horned Frogs at Schollmaier Arena.
Few things went right for TCU. The team was outrebounded 41-20, outshot from the field by 13% and star freshman Mike Miles (10.3 points per game on the season) finished with zero points on 0-for-8 shooting.
“Our shot selection made a lot of missed shots ones that we couldn’t rebound,” Dixon said about the rebounding issues. “Then, they didn’t miss any shots, but our defense certainly put us in that position.”
Center Kevin Samuel, who leads the Big 12 with 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, was a nonfactor, failing to tally a rebound or a block to go with his eight points on the day.
On the other side, forward David McCormack was a menace for Kansas, owning Samuel for a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Forwards Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson added a combined 35 for the Jayhawks.
One bright spot for the Frogs was guard Chuck O’Bannon, who finished with a career-high 18 points. The USC transfer also led the team with six boards.
With Kansas looking to bounce back from a 25-point loss and TCU hungry for an upset, the game began with a high level of intensity.
Just minutes in, Kevin Easley was hit in the face, forcing Dixon to call timeout and put guard Chuck O’Bannon into the game. The move paid off, as the USC-transfer immediately proceeded to go on a personal 5-0 run.
The Jayhawks then demonstrated the poise they’re known for as a program, ripping off a 12-1 run capped off by a breakaway slam from guard Christian Braun.
As the first half went on, the tall task of playing with Kansas looked more and more daunting for TCU. Despite shooting well themselves, the Frogs struggled to get stops defensively, as the Jayhawks shot an impressive 64% from the field through the first 10 minutes.
TCU was able to pull within four on a thunderous slam by center Kevin Samuel, but Kansas then ballooned the lead right back to 12. The rapid pace and elite shooting of the Jayhawks appeared too much for a young Frogs team to handle.
The Jayhawks shot an impressive 6-for-10 from behind-the-arc in the first half, giving them a 49-35 lead over the Frogs heading into the locker room at halftime. Despite the fact that O’Bannon and Nembhard had combined for 22, TCU was struggling offensively, as the rest of the team was shooting just 29%.
The 49 points scored by Kansas were the most TCU had given up in a first half all season.
The Jayhawks continued to flex their muscles into the second half, and things would look no better for the Frogs throughout. Kansas stayed hot, exploiting a TCU defense that looked just a step too slow all night.
“We gave up, I think, five-straight baskets to start [the second half],” Dixon said. “It was extremely disappointing. I didn’t see it coming.”
Just five minutes into the second half, the Jayhawks had built a 26-point lead. By that point, the nails were already in the coffin, as the Frogs would never again get it closer than 20.
The loss drops TCU to 2-2 in conference play.
“Just try and keep them encouraged throughout the last few minutes of this game actually,” Nembhard said. “It’s a long season, so you can’t dwell on games. All you can do is learn from them.”
The Frogs will have no ease in their schedule later this week when No. 2 Baylor comes to town on Saturday. Tip-off against the Bears is scheduled for 3 p.m.