Close home-losses have become all-too common for the Horned Frogs in recent contests. Whether it be pure bad luck or something bigger, it was déjà vu all over again for TCU Wednesday night, losing to the Kansas State Wildcats 75-74 on a night that saw the team’s four seniors honored in a pregame ceremony.
Despite finishing the night ahead of the Wildcats in numerous statistical categories, the Frogs faced an 11-point halftime deficit after Kansas State hit six three-pointers in the first half. TCU rallied to cut K-State’s lead to just one in the closing minutes, but couldn’t get over the hump as the Frogs fell to 17-13 (6-11 Big 12) on the season.
“We couldn’t have had a more disappointing loss than this on senior night, obviously given our bubble situation and losing by one point,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “You’ve got to do the things it takes to win games and we didn’t do that for 40 minutes.” https://twitter.com/TCUBasketball/status/837152483025764354
The achingly-close loss, the third straight at home of three points or less, extended TCU’s late-season losing streak to six games and was the latest blow to the team’s diminishing NCAA Tournament hopes. The Frogs entered the contest with an RPI of 60.
“We needed to win this game,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “Certainly we could go win some games in the tournament and that could change everything…but we’re not going to win games playing the way we’re playing.”
The Wildcats on the other hand, who entered the game with the same exact record as the Frogs (17-12, 6-10 Big 12) saw their March Madness aspirations stay alive for yet another day, powered by a 20-point performance from forward Dean Wade.
The Frogs had four players reach double digits in scoring, with Vladimir Brodziansky putting up a team-high 18 points. Brandon Parrish finished the night with 11 points, all in succession, in his final regular-season home game as a Horned Frog. 56 points among four players and a shooting edge of 50 percent to 45 percent however would still not be enough come the end of the night.
“We got out-rebounded, we didn’t guard well enough, you let them shoot 45 percent…all the things we say we need to do we don’t do, and that’s why we’ve lost six in a row,” Dixon. “I really believe we’re better than what we play and I’m trying to instill that in our players.”
Though a narrow margin, the Frogs allowed 31 rebounds opposed to their own 28, while also shooting only 73 percent at the free-thrown line compared to the Wildcats’ success rate of 82 percent. Kenrich Williams accounted for 11 of TCU’s rebounds, seven defensively and four offensively.
“The rebounds really stand out,” Dixon said. “Kenrich [Williams] really seems to be the only guy that comes up with the rebounds, loose balls and deflections, and we need more guys doing that.”
The game itself began with each team trading the lead, as the Wildcats struck first on a Wade three-pointer before the Frogs struck-back with a 6-0 run to take a three-point lead. Kansas State would tie it back up at six with an ensuing three-pointer, only for TCU to score five more unanswered for an early 11-6 lead.
The teams would trade once more in the early-going before Kansas State took advantage of a TCU scoring drought that lasted for more than two minutes. The Wildcats had built a 28-22 lead with 7:53 to play in the first half and ultimately extended it to eleven, after a 6-0 run to close out the half made it a 40-29 contest heading into the locker-room. The Frogs shot 48.1 percent from the field but only 20 percent from downtown in the first frame.
The Wildcats extended the lead to 13 with a Wade dunk out of the gate in the second half, and things soon got choppy after the court when Brodziansky was knocked to the ground well after the whistle, inciting freshman Jaylen Fisher to try and retaliate before being restrained by teammates. Fisher and Iwundu Wesley were both called for technical fouls.
The deficit didn’t last long though, as TCU pulled within one point with 10:55 to play after Brandon Parrish single-handedly put the Frogs on an 8-0 scoring run. Kansas State however responded with a 7-0 run before Parrish stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer, his eleventh straight point for the Frogs in that span.
The Frogs would cut the deficit back to just one when Brodziansky sunk four consecutive free-throws on two trips to the line, making it a 62-61 contest with just under five minutes to play. TCU would keep the deficit within four points, but squandered a prime chance to take a lead when two sequences had nothing to show for when trailing 66-65 at the two-minute mark. An ensuing three-pointer from Wade, his fourth of the game, gave Kansas State a two-score lead once again, at it ultimately proved to be too much for the Frogs.
There was a glimmer of hope when the Frogs intentionally fouled twice down just two points in the closing minutes, but D.J. Johnson and Kamau Stokes both made their free throws to secure the win. Alex Robinson hit a three pointer with just one second left on the clock to make it a 75-74 contest, but it was far too late to have any impact on the outcome of the game.
And that was how TCU was left disappointed and searching for answers once again, putting a sour note on the final home game for the team’s four seniors – Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, Michael Williams and Chris Washburn. Parrish called the loss the “most devastating” that he had been through at TCU.
“Just the fact that we had so much on the line and we gave it away…I mean we fought, but at the end of the day it’s still a loss,” Parrish said. “This one is definitely tough.”
With all the close home-losses in succession though, Parish said the effort had a lot of the same factors that contributed to recent let-downs.
“We haven’t been able to get over that hump,” Parrish said. “We’ve played good at times, but in all honesty we haven’t been able to put two good halves together. We come out in the first half slumped and then in the second really good, or vice-versa.”
As painful as the loss may come, given all the tournament implications, Parrish was adamant that it will prove to be a necessary learning experience.
“There are a lot of guys that are young on this team, guys that are going to learn from this. It’s going to hurt, but sometimes the pain helps you learn,” Parrish said.
Parrish will finish his TCU career having played in every regular-season home game possible during his four years with the team, as he had played in every possible game, home or road, entering Wednesday’s contest. He’ll likely finish his four years as the all-time program leader in games played.
The Frogs will conclude their regular season on Saturday when they head to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the last-place Oklahoma Sooners. Following that, it’s on to Kansas City, Missouri as the Frogs look to make the most of the Big 12 Championship Tournament.
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