“Anything you can do I can do better.”
From the time TCU tipped off against No. 13 University of Texas at Austin on Saturday to when the final buzzer sounded, it felt like that was the Longhorns’ message to the visiting Horned Frogs.
Even with the return of star freshman guard Mike Miles for TCU, who missed Tuesday’s game with illness, the Frogs struggled mightily from both ends of the floor. The Longhorns consistently responded to TCU’s runs with bigger, stronger ones of their own.
Midway through the second half, the Frogs were able to pull within three on a 5-0 run and seemed to have all the momentum in the arena. The Longhorns then responded with a 13-1 run, blowing the game wide open and crushing any hope TCU had at pulling off an upset.
“We had like four straight possessions where we didn’t get anything out of it, and we were still down five,” Nembhard said of TCU’s dry spell. “We have to limit those.”
TCU finished the day with 15 turnovers, just six assists and 37% shooting as a team, falling to Texas 70-55 and ending their two-game winning streak.
On the other side, the Longhorns shot just shy of 50% as a team, dished out 15 assists, and out-scored the Frogs by an overwhelming 32-16 in the paint.
“I didn’t like what we did offensively. I didn’t like what we did defensively,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “Certainly coming off of two wins, you expect to play with some sort of execution.”
Right out of the gate, TCU looked hungry for an upset, as guard P.J. Fuller hit his first two shots to put the Frogs up 5-0 in the opening moments of the game.
Almost immediately, Texas responded, hitting a three and an easy dunk to tie the score.
The Frogs would take yet another lead moments later, as guard R.J. Nembhard had one of the most dominant stretches a TCU player has had all season. The junior hit four shots straight to reach 10 points before the game was midway through the first half.
The Horns looked unfazed though, putting the clamps on the Horned Frog guards and dominating the rest of the half to take a 37-29 lead into the locker room.
The pervasive defense of Texas guards carried into the second half, eventually suffocating TCU. After starting nearly perfect from the field, Nembhard and Fuller shot a combined 1-for-15 the rest of the game.
“They [Texas] just kept changing coverages,” Nembhard said of the change in the Longhorns’ defense after his strong start.
It did not help that Texas had artificial crowd noise playing at near-deafening levels in the Frank C. Erwin Center when TCU had the ball in their hands.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” Dixon said of the artificial crowd noise. “There’s no reason we should have six assists and 15 turnovers, [but] that’s the first time we’ve had to deal with that.”
Meanwhile, the Longhorns were putting on an offensive clinic, seemingly scoring at will.
Led by guard Matt Jones, who scored 19 points, and freshman Greg Brown (3-for-3 from behind-the-arc), Texas finished with four guys in double figures to TCU’s two.
Miles joined Nembhard in double figures for the Frogs, scoring 10 in his return.
A quick turnaround awaits TCU, as they head back home to play No. 7 Texas Tech University at home in just 48 hours. Tip-off is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.