Kansas State (7-7, 0-2 Big 12) tried to reverse the course of Saturday’s OU game, in which it built a double-digit lead only to fade late, by spotting TCU (11-3, 2-0) a 10-point lead and trying to roar back. It almost worked, after David Sloan tied the score for the first time in the second half by draining a three-point basket with 13 seconds to play. But after the defense forced a difficult shot by TCU’s RJ Nembhard, Kevin Samuel used his enormous size advantage to tip in the miss over Sloan. A long, contested attempt to win the game in the last two seconds fell short, and the Horned Frogs prevailed, 59-57.
K-State’s defensive effort was at times fantastic. The squad forced two shot clock violations in the second half and held the visitors to 34.9% (20-59) shooting. But at least three other times, the Frogs spoiled 29 seconds of stellar defense by finding and exploiting late breakdowns—often for three-point baskets—as the shot clock expired.
Throughout the second half, it seemed K-State would pull within one or two, only to see TCU reestablish a five- or six-point lead.
The Wildcats can only blame themselves, on a couple of fronts. They made only 11 of 19 free throw attempts, including a ghastly 3-10 in the second half. They got out-rebounded 41-32 and, consequently, had ten fewer shot attempts, making 21 of 49 (42.9%). Unfortunately, though they have hardly been consistent outside marksmen this season, the Cats hoisted 20 three-point attempts. They only made four. Perhaps as large an issue was the number of wide-open three-point looks they afforded TCU. The Frogs made 10 of 27 (37%) from deep.
Bright spots: Freshman DaJuan Gordon only scored four points in his 26 minutes, but he worked extremely hard and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six. Xavier Sneed also had six rebounds and led the team with 19 points, though he did not exhibit the shooting touch he had in Norman, making only 5 of 14 shots. Makol Mawien had ten points on seven shots.
More disappointment: Cartier Diarra scored five, tossed five assists, but was also blamed for four turnovers. He only played 20 minutes before fouling out. Mike McGuirl was held scoreless, missing all three shots from the field, and all three from the line. Symmetry, at least.
Bane led TCU, with 16, followed by Nembhard’s 15 and Samuel and Jaier Grayer’s 10 each.
The outcome marks the first time since joining the Big 12 that TCU has begun league play with a 2-0 record. It marks the second straight season that the Cats have begun 0-2.
Keep playing hard and getting close, and the Wildcats have to break through eventually. Don’t they? They will try again Saturday against the Texas Longhorns in Austin.