“We’re a tired group,” TCU head coach Trent Johnson said. “We need two days off.”
Junior guard Kyan Anderson scored a team-high 15 points in the loss. Anderson, who averages 16.9 points per game this season, leads the Big 12 in scoring over the last month.
Par for the course of TCU’s conference slate, the Frogs (9-18, 0-15 Big 12) were outrebounded 35-26 on the night.
Junior forward Amric Fields, who averages 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, missed Monday night’s contest with a knee injury that has hampered him all year.
To put the Frogs’ ever growing list of injuries into perspective, TCU had seven scholarship athletes available for Monday night’s contest and six sitting on the bench in street clothes.
“It makes it harder for us, not having a full roster,” Anderson said.
With a tournament berth almost completely out-of-reach, Fields’ availability for the remainder of the season remains questionable at best.
The Cowboys (18-10, 6-9 Big 12) started the game off missing nine of their first 10 shots, including all three attempts from behind the arc. Oklahoma State entered Monday night’s contest with the third-best scoring offense in the Big 12.
Cowboys guard Marcus Smart, who wore No. 43 for the game instead of his usual No. 33 due to an equipment issue, missed 10 of his first 11 shots and struggled for much of the game.
“It felt kind of weird playing with [the different number],” Smart said. “I played a pretty decent game in it so I’m not superstitious. Our managers forgot to pack my number.”
Despite that, Smart finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, due in part to an explosive stretch during the second half.
“He does so much that doesn’t involve scoring that wins,” Johnson said of Smart.
Early in the first half, freshman forward Brandon Parrish hit a three-pointer to give the Frogs a 5-2 edge. Oklahoma State responded with an 8-1 run, putting the game at 11-6 Cowboys.
Senior forward Jarvis Ray added 11 points for TCU in the loss.
By the 9:50 mark, Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte had 10 of the Cowboys 16 points. Forte, a native of Flower Mound, Texas, hit four three-pointers in the first half and finished with a game-high 23 points on the night.
“You gotta pick your poison with this group,” Johnson said.
Forte’s hot game from behind the arc was very reminiscent of Baylor guard Brady Heslip’s performance less than two weeks ago. Heslip hit a season-high eight three-pointers against TCU as the Bears routed the Frogs 91-58.
Smart hit his first shot of the game with 5:05 remaining in the contest and Anderson responded with his first field goal of the game, a three-pointer to cut Oklahoma State’s eight-point lead to five.
After that, Oklahoma State would end the half on an 11-1 run, capped by Forte’s fourth three-pointer of the night. Despite the slow start, the Cowboys hit six three-pointers in the first half and led 37-22.
Freshman center Karviar Shepherd, who still had his hand taped up after suffering an injury earlier this year, scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for TCU in the loss.
“I’m just trying to do the simple things,” Shepherd said.
The second half was more of the same for TCU’s slumping team.
While the Frogs started off the second half with a 6-0 run capped by Shepherd’s second dunk of the year, Oklahoma State quickly got their lead back up to 13 after a three-pointer by Leyton Hammonds.
“When you’re playing with an experienced group and a top three player in the country, it takes a lot of pressure off,” Johnson said.
With 15:12 left in the game and the Cowboys up by 11, Hammonds hit his second shot from behind the arc of the night. He then hit a fastbreak windmill layup to give Oklahoma State a 47-31 edge.
Hammonds finished with 13 points in the win.
After a quick 6-0 run in which Anderson hit a fastbreak layup, Shepherd hit a pair of free throws to cut the Cowboys’ lead to single digits.
Parrish would then hit a layup to make it a six-point game with nine minutes left.
“We never try to give up,” Shepherd said. “We’re just trying to improve every game, every day in practice.”
Once again, Oklahoma State had a response. After getting the lead up to eight following a layup, Smart drilled a three-pointer to put the Cowboys up 52-41.
Smart scored 15 of his 17 total points in the second half.
“Moving me to the four, I got some easy buckets,” Smart said.
Referee John Higgins then called a technical foul on Johnson and Forte hit the ensuing pair of free throws. Higgins has called four technical fouls on Johnson during Johnson’s two-year tenure at TCU.
“I was trying to call a timeout,” Johnson said. “I didn’t say anything. I was trying to get the timeout.”
Forte would hit a fastbreak jumper on the ensuing possession and just like that, Oklahoma State led by 15 with 7:05 remaining.
With about five minutes remaining, the Cowboys hit a trifecta of three-pointers in less than 30 seconds to make it 67-46 Oklahoma State.
“I think that just kinda killed any run they had,” Forte said.
The Cowboys finished with 14 three-pointers on the night.
“When you start making some threes, it makes everything look good,” Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford said.
After cutting the lead to six with nine minutes left, the Frogs were outscored 29-13 for the remainder of the game.
When the clock struck zero, the score read 76-54 Oklahoma State and TCU was still winless in conference play.
In fact, the Frogs haven’t won a game since Dec. 29 and rank dead last in the Big 12 in scoring offense, field goal percentage, rebounding and assists. They’ve already been swept by seven of the Big 12’s 10 teams.
With only three games left in the regular season, TCU’s chances to notch their first conference win of the season are running very thin. They’ll take on West Virginia (15-12, 7-7) in Morgantown, W.Va. next Monday.
Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT.