Rebounding has been a struggle for TCU basketball all season, and it was one offensive rebound given up that prevented the Frogs from shocking the No. 12 Missouri Tigers in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday afternoon.
After leading by 12 points with 4:48 remaining in regulation, TCU went stone cold, giving up a blistering 19-7 run to Missouri to end the second half.
Holding onto a three point lead with seconds left, the Frogs forced what appeared to be the game-clinching miss, but the Tigers were able to grab an offensive rebound and find point guard Xavier Pinson for the tie with 3.9 seconds left in the game.
“At the end of the day, you just have to come up with rebounds,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s disappointing. They killed us from the free throw line, which we said they couldn’t do, and they killed us from three.”
As a team, Missouri got to the line a whopping 35 times, compared to just 17 times for TCU.
The game remained tight in overtime, with TCU taking the lead yet again with 53 seconds to go on a layup plus a foul by forward Jaedon LeDee.
Missouri immediately responded with a layup, and guard R.J. Nembhard, who had scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and overtime, was unable to get a foul call on the other end, leading to a 102-98 loss for TCU.
Pinson was brilliant for the Tigers all day, scoring a career and game-high 36 points on the day. Most of the junior’s damage came from behind the arc, as he hit eight of his 13 three-point attempts.
Dixon said that second chances for Missouri were what allowed the Tigers to exploit the Frogs from deep down the stretch.
Pinson was not alone, though, as Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon also set a career high with 33 points on 11 rebounds. His 8-8 start from the field in the first half gave the Tigers a dominant start down low.
Leading TCU offensively was freshman Mike Miles, who followed a strong performance against No. 15 Kansas on Thursday with a career-high 28 points on Saturday.
The game was the fourth 20-point performance of the season for Miles, whose rookie campaign has already put the nation on watch.
“I’ve always had confidence since the first day I came to this school, but it definitely has grown seeing how good I’ve played,” Miles said.
Early on, it was all TCU could do to keep up with Tilmon down low. Dixon played three big men, including true freshman Eddie Lampkin, in the opening minutes of the game to wear the Missouri big man out.
The Frogs did start to slow Tilmon down while getting going themselves on offense, shooting just over 59% as a team in the first 20 minutes to take a 43-38 lead into halftime.
As the second half went on, the game looked to be more and more in the hands of TCU, as the team found the offensive rhythm it had been looking for all season.
Center Kevin Samuel then became the first Frog to foul out this season, and the Frogs lost momentum, giving the Tigers the spark they needed to survive the upset.
Despite the loss, TCU’s 98 points were the team’s most points scored this season. The Frogs also displayed quite the improvement in ball control with eight turnovers compared to their 22 committed just two days prior.
“The progress has been made,” Dixon said. “We’ve had challenges, but we’ve made progress. We’ve fought.”
USC transfer Chuck O’Bannon had one of his best games of the season for TCU, scoring 17 points and grabbing five boards. LeDee and guard P.J. Fuller added a combined 21 points off the bench.
Now on a five-game losing streak, TCU will return home on Wednesday in desperate need of a win. They host Oklahoma State University at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
“Just knowing that we’re a good team,” Miles said on how TCU can bounce back. “We can beat anybody. We’ve shown that.”