TCU’s against-the-odds journey to secure an automatic berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament came to a halt Friday night in the Sprint Center.
The Horned Frogs fell to No. 23 Iowa State 84-63 to end their hopes of securing a Big 12 tournament title, and, during the postgame news conference, they talked openly about NIT bid possibilities.
TCU (19-15), which began the event as the No. 8 seed, saw its two-game winning streak in Kansas City disappear on a night when it was outshot, outrebounded and outplayed by the Cyclones (22-10).
“They played well. We didn’t. We looked fatigued, to be honest with you,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon, whose team was playing its third game in three days. “We just didn’t seem to respond like I thought we would.”
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The Frogs fell to ISU one day after recording an 85-82 upset of top-ranked Kansas to reach the tournament semifinals for the first time in school history. The upset of Kansas marked the first time TCU had beaten a No. 1 team.
While the Cyclones will play for an NCAA Tournament berth in Saturday’s title game and project to receive an at-large bid even if they lose, TCU’s postseason future is less clear.
Based on recent projections, TCU’s successful run at the Sprint Center is not expected to land the Frogs an at-large bid to March Madness. But TCU projects as a likely participant in the NIT, which will fill its 32-team field shortly after the 68-team NCAA bracket is announced Sunday.
At the first of the year, if you’d told me we’d be here right now, in position to go to the NIT, I’d have said, ‘Fellows, I’ll take that.’
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte
“We know that we’re going to be playing again and we’ve got to take this as a lesson,” said Dixon, who declined to close the door to an at-large NCAA bid but acknowledged an NIT appearance is more likely. “I’m proud of our guys. It’s been a good run for us (in Kansas City) and certainly something that we wanted to instill in our program going forward.”
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte confirmed the school has a bid to host NIT games if the Frogs are seeded highly enough. But he will not know until Sunday if TCU will land any games in Fort Worth. He also praised Dixon and his players for securing TCU’s most successful season as a Big 12 member and being in position to land TCU’s first NIT bid since 2005.
“At the first of the year, if you’d told me we’d be here right now, in position to go to the NIT, I’d have said, ‘Fellows, I’ll take that,’ ” Del Conte said.
Against Iowa State, things began getting away from TCU from the outset. The Cyclones shot 56.4 percent from the field and took the lead for good 11-10 on Deonte Burton’s 3-pointer with 13:28 remaining in the first half. The basket was part of a game-turning, 10-0 run that sent ISU into Saturday’s title game against No. 11 West Virginia, which edged Kansas State 51-50 Friday night.
We showed … we are a resilient group of guys who aren’t afraid of any team and, if we put our minds to it, we can achieve anything.
TCU guard Brandon Parrish
TCU struggled to slow the Cyclones’ guard-oriented offense, forcing only two first-half turnovers and watching ISU build a 44-27 halftime advantage. TCU, which was outrebounded 32-31, never got closer than 14 points during the second half while falling to ISU for the second time in three meetings.
Burton led Iowa State with 22 points. TCU produced just two double-digit scorers: forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10 points, two rebounds) and guard Jaylen Fisher (10 points, three assists).
“We don’t want to say fatigue was a factor. But when you go out there and are missing layups and most of your jump shots are missing short, it was pretty evident,” TCU guard Brandon Parrish said. “The last game didn’t go our way. But we gave it our all, all three of these games. We showed … we are a resilient group of guys who aren’t afraid of any team and, if we put our minds to it, we can achieve anything.”
Next up: Sunday’s bracket announcements for the NCAA and NIT. If the NCAA door closes, Dixon said: “We will be in the NIT and a high seed in the NIT … This is a big step for us as a program, a huge step.”
TCU (19-15): Miller 2-3 0-0 5, Brodziansky 4-13 2-2 10, Fisher 4-9 0-0 10, K.Williams 4-10 1-1 9, Robinson 1-8 0-0 2, Sottile 1-1 0-0 2, Shepherd 3-3 2-2 8, Washburn 1-1 2-4 4, B.Parrish 3-9 0-0 8, M.Williams 0-1 0-0 0, J.Parrish 0-0 0-0 0, Bane 1-2 2-2 4, Dry 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 24-61 10-13 63.
IOWA ST. (22-10): Young 4-5 1-4 9, Thomas 3-6 0-0 7, Burton 8-16 4-6 22, Morris 5-10 2-2 15, Mitrou-Long 4-6 1-2 11, Bowie 2-4 0-0 4, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Holden 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 3-5 0-0 8, Greder 0-0 0-0 0, Long 0-1 0-1 0, Weiler-Babb 2-2 2-2 8. Totals 31-55 10-17 84.
Halftime—Iowa St. 44-27. 3-Point Goals—TCU 5-19 (Fisher 2-3, B.Parrish 2-7, Miller 1-1, M.Williams 0-1, Bane 0-1, Brodziansky 0-1, K.Williams 0-2, Robinson 0-3), Iowa St. 12-25 (Morris 3-5, Weiler-Babb 2-2, Jackson 2-4, Mitrou-Long 2-4, Burton 2-7, Thomas 1-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—TCU 28 (K.Williams 8), Iowa St. 30 (Young 9). Assists—TCU 15 (K.Williams, Robinson 5), Iowa St. 13 (Burton 4). Total Fouls—TCU 15, Iowa St. 13.
Big 12 Tournament
at Kansas City, Mo.
▪ No. 4 Iowa State 84, No. 8 TCU 63
▪ No. 2 West Virginia 51, No. 6 Kansas State 50
Championship, Iowa State vs. West Virginia, 5 p.m., ESPN