“We have to do a better of competing at a high level against good teams, against good players,” TCU head coach Trent Johnson said.
For the second straight game, rebounding struggles seemed to be TCU’s biggest cause for concern. The Frogs were outrebounded 37-21 during the contest and seemed outmanned in the post for much of the night.
“We’re soft right now,” junior forward Amric Fields said. “At heart, we’re a really tough team. It’s just bringing it out at game time that we have to figure out.”
Fields, who led TCU with 14 points, said his injuries are still affecting him.
“I’m probably at about 70 percent right now,” Fields said. “I can’t practice. These close games are really hard on my knee.”
The loss marks only the second two-game losing streak of the season for the Frogs, but Johnson said the team has to get it turned around.
“We gotta fight through,” Johnson said. “We’ve had two opportunities in a row at home where we haven’t competed very well on the glass.”
Kansas State, on the other hand, is now 12-3 overall on the season and riding a 10-game winning streak, which is the longest of Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber’s short tenure.
Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson led all scorers with 19 points. He also contributed 8 rebounds and made five free throws.
“I don’t think we [handled him well],” Fields said. “He had his way with us in the zone or the man.”
Texas-native Marcus Foster, who was heavily recruited by the Frogs but ultimately chose Kansas State, also contributed 16 points in the win.
“He’s so consistent and so focused for a young guy,” Weber said. “He doesn’t say much, but he loves to play.”
The Frogs forced six Kansas State turnovers in the first five minutes of the game but only led 7-5 early due to poor shooting that ended up hurting them most of the night.
TCU went just 2-of-13 from behind the arc for the entire game.
Kansas State then responded with 15-5 run on the back of their stout scoring defense, which is currently best in the Big 12 statistically.
“We had shots,” Johnson said.
Despite forcing 11 Kansas State turnovers, the Frogs were outrebounded 21-8 and shot only 34.8 percent in the first half.
“We’re tough,” Fields said. “We just need to show it.”
With three minutes remaining in the first half, TCU trailed by 11 and had only four rebounds to Kansas State’s 19.
“For whatever reason, I’m not cracking through to these guys about how hard we have to play and how well we have to defend and rebound the ball,” Johnson said.
Junior guard Kyan Anderson hit a coast-to-coast fastbreak layup as time expired but the Frogs still trailed the Wildcats 31-21 at halftime. Their 21 points in the first half was a season-low for TCU.
After Kansas State opened the second half with five straight points, the Frogs went on a 10-0 run, capped by a long jumper from forward Brandon Parrish, to cut the Wildcat lead to only 5.
“We came out with a lot of energy and we knew how important the first five minutes of the second half was and we came out ready to go,” Fields said. “As the game progressed, our energy slowly decreased.”
With 12:17 left in the game, TCU trailed by only four and had the crowd behind them. Once again, the Wildcats responded, going on a 7-2 run that put them up 45-36.
“That’s a mentally tough team,” Johnson said.
Kansas State got the lead up to 15 with a little less than three minutes left in the game, and the Frogs couldn’t respond with a run to bring the game within reach.
“I thought, for whatever reason, we just stopped competing,” Johnson said. “I know when I looked in that huddle at the six minute mark, there was one guy whose head was where it needed to be and it was Brandon Parrish.”
Parrish finished the night with eight points.
When the clock ran out, TCU lost 65-47.
The Frogs are now 9-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play this season with a road matchup against #9 Baylor (12-2, 0-1 Big 12) next.
“We’re kind of in a funk right now and we need to figure out how to bring the toughness out when the lights are on,” Fields said.