College Sports

January 7, 2014

TCU men go cold late as Kansas State pulls away

The Horned Frogs struggle to score in the last six minutes and fail to keep up with the Wildcats.

Scoring hasn’t been much of an issue for TCU this season as the Horned Frogs have averaged 70.2 points per game entering Tuesday’s Big 12 meeting with Kansas State.

But against the Wildcats in front of an announced crowd of 4,280 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, the Frogs’ offense went AWOL for much of the night. Kansas State pulled away in the final six minutes to win 65-47.

Offensively, TCU (9-5, 0-2 Big 12) struggled to keep up the 25th-ranked Wildcats (12-3, 2-0), who shot over 52 percent with Thomas Gipson and Marcus Foster leading the way. Gipson, who attended Cedar Hill High School and had 24 friends and family in the stands, led all scorers with 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Foster scored 16 and made consecutive 3-pointers to put the Wildcats in control with a 53-42 lead with under 5 minutes remaining.

TCU again struggled on the glass and was outrebounded 37-21. The rebounding edge allowed K-State to overcome 18 turnovers. The Frogs’ 47 points were their fewest all season.

“The thing that’s really disappointing to me — with about 6 minutes to go, it’s relatively still a ballgame and I thought, for whatever reason, we just stopped competing,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said.

“Our body language was not real good. It’s really disappointing. We have to do a better job of competing at a high level versus good teams, versus good players.”

TCU’s offensive struggles were evident early. K-State held the Frogs to three points during a 10-minute stretch in the first half, and the Frogs trailed 31-21 at halftime, a season-low first-half total for TCU.

TCU shot 34.7 percent from the field, including 12.5 percent (2 of 16) from the 3-point arc. The free-throw line wasn’t kind to the Frogs, either, which stymied hopes of chipping away at K-State’s lead in the final five minutes. The Frogs were 11 of 19 from the line.

“When the ball doesn’t go down, it shouldn’t affect the way you play at the other end,” Johnson said. “[Kansas State] threw the ball away a lot, but it didn’t affect the way they played at the other end. So what does that say? That’s a mentally tough team, and that’s exactly what it is.”

Johnson expressed dismay at the lack of mental toughness from his team. He said it’s something that never needed to be addressed to him as a player because it was a given.

Amric Fields, who led the Frogs with 14 points, said toughness is there for TCU, but it’s just not showing up for games.

“We’re soft right now,” he said. “We’re really soft. But we can play a lot better. We haven’t shown that yet, but at heart we’re a really tough team. We just need to show it. We’re kind of in a funk right now, and we need to figure out how to bring the toughness when the lights are on.”

Fields and Karviar Shepherd both had two fouls in the first half and perhaps were leery of foul trouble. They finished with a combined six rebounds. Guard Charles Hill Jr. came off the bench to share the team’s rebounding lead with Shepherd with four.

TCU plays at No. 7 Baylor (12-2, 0-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Bears opened Big 12 play with a loss at No. 9 Iowa State on Tuesday night.

“For whatever reason, I’m not cracking through to these guys about how hard we have to play and how well we have to rebound and defend the ball,” Johnson said. “I’m not getting through to them. There’s no way around it.”

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