There has been no more fitting illustration of TCU’s current exasperation than head coach Jamie Dixon being ejected for the first time in his 21-year coaching career.
When it happened after his second technical late in Saturday’s loss to Kansas State, Dixon was stunned. He walked off the court and up the tunnel to watch the final five minutes on television in the locker room.
Meanwhile, Bruce Weber continued to dance around and out of his coaching box without so much as a sidewards glance from the officials.
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TCU’s resurgence back into the national college basketball scene has been triggered by several factors, including former coach Trent Johnson’s recruiting prowess, Dixon’s return to his alma mater, the renovations to Schollmaier Arena, and, of course, the move into the Big 12 six seasons ago.
The last, however, is the current sticking point. Playing in arguably the toughest conference in the nation is both good and bad for the No. 24 Horned Frogs, who are likely to fall out of the Associated Press Top 25 Monday morning, hours before they host their first ESPN Big Monday game in nearly two decades.
They play No. 6 West Virginia (16-3, 5-2), currently a game behind Kansas atop the Big 12. TCU (14-5, 2-5) is tied with Baylor and Iowa State for last in the league.
Add to the mix the loss of Jaylen Fisher, TCU’s point guard who will miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery last week.
The good news is the Frogs have been within striking distance of every loss, including Saturday when they played one of their poorer games of the season. A few plays here or there and that 2-5 record could be 5-2. It won’t be easy, especially in the Big 12, but beginning Monday night TCU can reassert itself in the national mix.
TCU vs. West Virginia
8 p.m. Monday, ESPN