“You know what, in athletics, one thing that is real easy to do is quit when you’re undermatched – overmatched, excuse me, and you have a lot of adversity during the course of the season,” TCU head coach Trent Johnson said. “And this is a group that has a lot of character and, for the most part, they competed their tail off.”
Freshman center Karviar Shepherd scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the close loss.
“We just played harder this game,” Shepherd said. “We knew it was going to be tough for us to come out and just not give it our all on our last game or, you know, in this tournament…and it just fell out with a loss.”
The Bears (22-10, 9-9 Big 12) jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game, capped by an alley-oop slam-dunk from Baylor forward Cory Jefferson.
Jefferson scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win. Par for the course of the season, the undermanned Frogs (9-22, 0-19 Big 12) were outrebounded 23-10 in the first half and 39-25 for the game.
Bears guard Brady Heslip hit his second three-pointer of the night early on to extend the Bears’ lead to 12. The senior guard made eight three-pointers the last time these two teams met.
Sophomore guard Christian Gore made a pair of three-pointers for TCU as well in the first half. Gore finished the game with 11 points.
By the 10-minute mark, the Frogs trailed 22-9. They missed 13 of their first 19 shots.
TCU lost both previous games against Baylor this season by a combined 59 points.
With 3:37 remaining in the half, the Bears held a commanding 34-21 lead. Their stout defense held the Frogs to 37 percent from the field in the half.
TCU managed to cut the deficit to single digits after an emphatic dunk from senior guard Jarvis Ray.
Baylor guard Kenny Chery made the Bears’ fourth three-pointer of the night on the ensuing possession to give Baylor their 39-27 halftime lead.
Junior guard Kyan Anderson scored 17 points and dished out eight assists in the loss.
“I wish we could have broke through, but it is what it is, and Kyan did an unbelievable job keeping us in games all year long in league play versus great players and great teams and well-coached teams,” Johnson said.
The second half seemed to be more of the same early but ultimately felt very different for the Frogs.
After Anderson hit a three-pointer to bring the deficit to nine, Baylor responded with a 10-2 run.
Within four minutes, the Bears had extended their 12-point halftime lead to 17.
As we’ve seen all season, TCU refused to quit against adversity. The Frogs once again cut the deficit to single digits after a jumper from Ray with 13:09 remaining in the game.
“And credit [TCU],” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “I thought they really made big shots, a lot of late shot clock baskets.”
The New Orleans native capped his college career with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Gore then hit a layup with lots of contact from the Baylor defense to make it a seven-point game. He couldn’t hit the ensuing free throw though and the Frogs trailed 51-44.
The Bears eventually got their lead back up to 16 after a 12-3 run.
With seven minutes remaining in their season, TCU trailed 65-51.
Like always, the hapless Horned Frogs refused to give up.
Ray hit a three-pointer to cut the game to 67-58 at the 4:59 mark but Baylor responded with two points of their own.
Down by eight with 3:31 left, TCU needed one big run to pull off a miraculous upset.
Ray broke out a fastbreak dunk to energize his team’s bench and cut the deficit to six. A win didn’t seem probable but it definitely solidified the team’s persistence.
“I just felt the second half we did a good job rebounding the ball on the defensive end which led to more fastbreak opportunities for us as a team,” Anderson said.
Unfortunately for the Frogs, Bears forward Isaiah Austin hit an and-one jumper to bring Baylor’s lead back to nine. Austin scored 16 points in the win.
TCU kept fighting but couldn’t complete the comeback.
When the clock ran out at the Sprint Center, TCU lost their 19th consecutive game 76-68.
“We weren’t nearly as good as we’ve been nor need to be,” Drew said. “But, at the end of the day, we got the win, which is important.”
The win marked Drew’s 200th for his career. He has been the Bears head coach since 2003.
“As far as 200, it just says that I’m getting older,” Drew said.
Baylor will face No. 2 seed Oklahoma (23-8, 12-6 Big 12) Thursday night.
“It’s just going to be another Big 12 battle,” Jefferson said. “Both teams are going to be ready.”