The TCU men's basketball team forged another nail-biting victory Wednesday.
Four days after beating Houston at the buzzer, the Horned Frogs (5-2) escaped with a 77-72 win over Lamar in front of an announced crowd of 4,262 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
As they did against the Cougars, TCU allowed the Cardinals (4-3) to whittle away at a 10-point halftime lead and briefly trailed 51-50 with 12:25 left in the game.
TCU regained the lead for good on Adrick McKinney's jumper, but every time the Frogs tried to pull away Lamar's Charlie Harper or Anthony Miles nailed a shot to keep it close. Both led all scorers with 21 points.
Harper's jumper off the glass with 1:22 left cut TCU's lead to 70-69, but Craig Williams came up with a loose ball after Hank Thorns missed on a reverse layup and scored on a put-back. After Thorns hit one of two free throws, Mike James pulled the Cardinals within two with 17 seconds left.
Four free throws by Amric Fields and Thorns in the final 11 seconds sealed the victory for TCU. North Crowley product Kyan Anderson led the Frogs with a season-high 15 points and the freshman held his own at the point late with Thorns in foul trouble.
"We've been coming out slow in the second half; maybe we need to change the warm-up or something," Thorns said. "We need to do something, there's a solution to everything."
But the Frogs, who have played the 36th toughest schedule in the nation so far, according to realtimerpi.com, have already found a way to do something last year's team never did: Win the close ones.
It was the Frogs' fourth win by fewer than five points this season.
"You hate playing in games like that, but it's games like that that make or break a team," said J.R. Cadot, who had 14 points, including 8 of 12 from the line. "So I'm happy we've found ourselves in two situations like that and we got out with a victory."
Although Lamar found numerous second-shot opportunities with 16 offensive rebounds, TCU had a 42-40 rebound edge, and coach Jim Christian was pleased with the effort on the boards.
"A lot of guys made big plays tonight," he said.
"I'm really happy with our team. We've challenged ourselves early. I thought we handled the ball better down the stretch than we did last game. We improved. This is a good basketball team we played tonight."
The resiliency, Cadot said, is something last year's team lacked.
"We learned that we're a team that's going to stick together through thick and thin when things go bad," Cadot said. "Last year we didn't have that but this year we're able to talk to guys when times are tough during a game."