Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports

Frogs can’t close in 62-53 loss to No. 6 Baylor

TCU might have lost to Baylor on Saturday night, but another brick was laid to the foundation of a quick rebuilding process.

The TCU Horned Frogs had high hopes facing the No. 6 Baylor Bears at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth Saturday night, but a one-point lead with under five minutes to play wouldn’t be enough breathing room for Jamie Dixon’s squad, as the Bears proceeded to embark on an 8-0 run and ultimately beat the Frogs 62-53.

“I’m disappointed for the fans tonight,” Dixon said. “They deserved to see a win, but I can’t thank them enough.”

Even with a 19 point game from forward Vladimir Brodziansky, a mere eight turnovers, and one of the most electric crowds at a TCU home game in recent history, it wasn’t enough for the Frogs to snap a nine game losing streak against a program that has risen to the top of the college basketball world.

“We have to believe we’re going to get it done and then actually get it done,” Dixon said.

With that, here’s all that you need to know from Saturday’s rivalry game that slipped away from the Frogs in the closing minutes.

Shooting woes

Taking on Baylor isn’t an easy task for any college basketball team with their recent success, but the Frogs noticeably struggled to find the basket throughout the game. Certainly there were spurts of success, such as an 8-0 run late in the first half that helped the Frogs take a 28-26 lead into the half, but here’s the bottom line: the Frogs shot 29 percent from the field on the night. Yes, 29 percent. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are playing – a performance like that simply will not cut it against a top 10 team.

“The shooting percentages stand out. We’ll obviously get to work on that tomorrow,” Dixon said.

The Frogs sunk only six of 25 three-point attempts and 13 of 19 free-throws in the loss. And yet  TCU still had a chance in the contest from start to end. Shoot any higher, or simply eliminate two 8-0 runs that Baylor enjoyed in the second half, and the outcome in this one may have turned out significantly different.

Untimely scoring droughts

One of the trends that one couldn’t help but notice Saturday night was the Frogs’ tendency to take a lead, only to let the Bears answer right back and put some padding on it. TCU led 26-28 at halftime, but allowed 8 straight points to the Bears to start the second half. 15 minutes later it was seemingly déjà vu, as the Frogs went from up one to down six in a blink of an eye, and that was the stretch that arguably proved to be the dagger in the loss.

“We came out of the half not very good and that’s the most important time of the ballgame,” TCU guard Kenrich Williams said. “When you go down late in a contest, it’s tough to come back.”

Dixon added that fatigue may have also contributed to such scoring droughts when it mattered most.

“We played too many minutes and that’s on me,” Dixon said. “We didn’t shoot well the last game and our minutes were low because of foul trouble. We shot well in practice yesterday.”

Regardless, it’s yet another department where TCU may have prevailed in contest had they kept pace with the Bears.

Points in the paint

As much as shooting percentages hurt TCU, this category doomed the Frogs just as much. The Bears outscored TCU 30-18 in the paint, and that’s even with the Frogs holding a 15-10 edge in offensive rebounds. Baylor’s size with players such Jonathan Motley and Jo Lual-Acuil certainly makes it hard for any squad to stop the bears near the basket, but that’s not to say the Frogs don’t have size themselves in the forms of Brodziansky and forward Karviar Shepherd. It’s yet another department where you have to wonder how scoreboard would have looked if the Frogs had kept up the Bears.

The crowds are back

Though the Frogs didn’t come out on top in this one, there’s no denying of how incredible it was for players and fans alike to witness a packed house full of passionate TCU fans Saturday night, something that has not been seen too often in Fort Worth in recent seasons. Just 15 minutes after the doors opened, the student section had filled up to the back row, and the roar when the Frogs took the lead just prior to halftime was the loudest the Ed Rae Schollmaier Arena had been since perhaps TCU’s upset of Kansas nearly four years ago.

“Our fans deserve it, our players deserve it and I’m proud of it,” Dixon said. “Before the game I told my players they’ve done the right things on and off the floor and they deserve it, but don’t let it change how you play. We did what we wanted to do and we just have to keep building off it.”

As bitter as the loss may have been to some, one thing is certain. The TCU faithful is showing its support loud and proud, and that’s something to smile about.

Player of the game: Vladimir Brodziansky

With 19 points, 10 rebounds, five free-throws and two three-pointers that sent the home crowd wild, the junior from Slovakia was undoubtedly the biggest difference-maker for the Frogs on both sides of the ball in this one. Brodziansky has now recorded double-digit points in five straight games and six of his last seven. For a man that has already made remarkable progress from his debut last season, the future for Brodziansky continues to appear incredibly bright if he keeps his numbers up.

 

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