TCU’s turnaround men’s basketball season under first-year coach Jamie Dixon will include another game in Fort Worth because the Horned Frogs handled a double dose of difficulty in style Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Horned Frogs knocked off Iowa 94-92 in overtime in a second-round NIT matchup despite playing without freshman point guard Jaylen Fisher, who was scratched during warmups because of a season-ending wrist injury.
Even without Fisher, the highest-rated recruit in program history, the Frogs (21-15) persevered and prevailed in a loud, sold-out venue (capacity: 15,400) on a hot-shooting night by the Hawkeyes (19-15), the top seed in TCU’s quadrant of the NIT.
The Frogs rallied behind a strong offensive performance from five double-digit scorers, led by forward Vladimir Brodziansky and guard Alex Robinson. Both contributed a team-high 19 points, with Robinson adding a career-high 11 assists, as TCU withstood a 54 percent shooting effort from Iowa marked by a 16-of-30 onslaught (53.3 percent) on 3-pointers.
TCU built a 44-40 lead at halftime and persevered by turning in one of its best shooting performances of the season — 50.7 percent from the field for the game — while forcing Iowa into 17 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.
The Frogs advanced to a third-round game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Schollmaier Arena against the Richmond Spiders, an 87-83 winner Sunday night over Oakland. Tuesday’s winner will play in the NIT semifinals in New York.
52 Points in the paint by TCU against Iowa. The Frogs outscored the Hawkeyes 52-30 in the paint.
“We were really bummed out that we couldn’t play with Jaylen. We’ve had Jaylen all year and we wanted to win this one for him,” said Robinson, a sophomore from Mansfield Timberview who played 44 of a possible 45 minutes and ran the offense with Fisher sidelined.
“Over the past couple of games, there’s a different energy. The seniors don’t want to go out with an ‘L’ and everybody’s playing as hard as we’ve played all year. It’s the perfect time, in the postseason, when you’re supposed to be playing your best basketball.”
TCU outscored Iowa in the paint 52-30, but the Hawkeyes’ accuracy from the perimeter pushed the game into overtime at 84-84. Once there, TCU went on a 6-0 run for a 92-86 lead, capped by a pair of Desmond Bane free throws with 24 seconds remaining.
Bane, a freshman who stepped into Fisher’s spot in the lineup, finished with 13 points and four assists. His overtime performance at the line (4 of 4 in the final 24 seconds) brought back memories of Bane’s 3-for-3 effort at the stripe with 2.5 seconds remaining in TCU’s 85-82 upset of top-ranked Kansas on March 9 at the Big 12 Conference tournament.
We were really bummed out that we couldn’t play with Jaylen (Fisher)... We wanted to win this one for him. TCU guard Alex Robinson
“Desmond was terrific,” Dixon said. “He had a big 3-pointer in the second half. But obviously the free throws were huge. He was steady. He’s a grown-up freshman.”
TCU’s game-turning run included two timely, overtime steals by Chris Washburn. The first led to a layup by Robinson, boosting the Frogs’ lead to 90-86, and the other resulted in the possession capped by Bane’s free throws.
“Chris came in and he made some great defensive plays. Those two steals in a row, they were huge for us,” said guard Kenrich Williams, who contributed his 15th double-double of the season (15 points, 10 rebounds). “That gave us a push, gave us some momentum on offense.”
TCU withstood one last Iowa jumper, a miss at the buzzer by Cordell Pemsl, before the Frogs could celebrate on a day that began in ominous fashion. During warmups, TCU announced Fisher would not play because of a broken left wrist suffered in Wednesday’s 66-59 victory over Fresno State in the team’s NIT opener.
Desmond was terrific ... He was steady. He’s a grown-up freshman. TCU coach Jamie Dixon, on the 13 points by freshman Desmond Bane in a spot start for the injured Jaylen Fisher
TCU officials said Fisher suffered the injury during a fall in the second half but continued playing. X-rays taken Thursday revealed a crack in the bone and TCU had Fisher accompany his teammates to Iowa in hope that he might be able to play with a soft cast. But when he reported pain during Sunday’s shoot-around, the decision was made to shut him down for the season.
Fisher, ESPN’s No. 34 high school prospect in 2016, finishes his freshman season averaging 9.9 points per game and led all Big 12 freshmen in assists (140). His absence meant extended minutes for Robinson, who made 7 of 16 shots from the field, as well 4 of 4 free throws, while reaching a career high in assists (11).
Asked if Sunday marked Robinson’s best game, Dixon said: “I think so. We rode him, rode him and rode him. I think he played pretty good defense, too.”
He’ll get to do it again Tuesday night in Fort Worth, with a trip to New York on the line.
TCU (21-15): Miller 3-8 0-0 7, Brodziansky 9-12 1-1 19, Bane 3-9 6-7 13, Robinson 7-16 4-4 19, K.Williams 6-11 1-2 15, Washburn 2-4 0-2 4, Shepherd 0-0 0-0 0, B.Parrish 5-7 0-2 14, M.Williams 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 36-71 12-18 94.
IOWA (19-15): Cook 7-7 2-5 16, Wagner 2-4 2-6 6, Bohannon 8-15 2-3 25, Jok 8-18 1-2 22, Moss 0-1 0-0 0, Baer 5-8 1-2 15, Pemsl 2-5 0-0 4, Kriener 1-2 0-1 2, Uhl 1-1 0-0 2, C.Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Ellingson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-63 8-19 92.
Halftime—TCU 44-40. End Of Regulation—Tied 84. 3-Point Goals—TCU 10-24 (B.Parrish 4-6, K.Williams 2-5, Bane 1-3, Robinson 1-3, M.Williams 1-3, Miller 1-4), Iowa 16-30 (Bohannon 7-12, Jok 5-10, Baer 4-6, Moss 0-1, Ellingson 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—TCU 29 (K.Williams 10), Iowa 36 (Baer 10). Assists—TCU 26 (Robinson 11), Iowa 26 (Bohannon 13). Total Fouls—TCU 21, Iowa 21. Technicals—K.Williams, Pemsl. A—15,400 (15,400).