The Big 12 Conference regular season came to a close Saturday afternoon and, fittingly, the finale results and final standings left more questions than answers.
Texas Tech's 79-75 win over TCU in Lubbock moved the No. 12 Red Raiders into second place, ahead of No. 20 West Virginia, which lost in overtime at Texas. Keeping up?
The Horned Frogs (21-10, 9-9 in the Big 12) finished in fifth place, a game behind Kansas State. Those two teams will meet in the Big 12 Conference tournament at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. That's the best conference finish for TCU since 2012.
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Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all finished at 8-10 in the league. Last-place Iowa State (13-17, 4-14) is the only team with no shot at earning an NCAA tournament bid, unless the Cyclones win the Big 12 tournament. Good luck with that. They open the tournament against Texas, who earned the No. 7 seed after tie-breakers.
The Big 12 tournament is a toss up.
The Horned Frogs, who led Tech 40-35 the half, were going to open the Big 12 tournament against Kansas State regardless of Saturday's outcome. The only thing left to settle was which team would be seeded No. 4 and which team would be seeded No. 5.
The Frogs finished at .500 in conference for the first time since going 7-7 in the Mountain West in 2012. TCU won a combined eight Big 12 games the previous two seasons, including six in coach Jamie Dixon's first season in 2016-17. In the five seasons prior to Dixon's arrival, TCU combined to win 15 conference games, including seven wins in their last year in the MWC. Dixon has 15 Big 12 regular-season wins in two seasons.
"We feel good," Dixon said. "Obviously, this is going to be a tough game to win on the road in this league. We fought through adversity. We had foul trouble across the board. I liked how hard we played, you outrebound a team by 12, you’ve got to admire the effort."
The Frogs outrebounded the Raiders 39 to 27.
TCU was trying to beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since beating Hawaii in January 1998. Red Raiders guard Keenan Evans, however, was too much in the second half. He scored all of his 23 points after the break on 6 of 11 shooting. He was 10 for 10 from the free throw line.
Texas Tech (23-8, 11-7) shot 50 percent from the field and received a boost from forward Zach Smith, who played in his first game since injuring his foot in early January. Smith had six points and two rebounds in 15 minutes. He left the floor with more foot pain in the second half. His presence, or lack of it, in the tournament will be a big factor for the Red Raiders' chances.
Tech had lost four in a row before Saturday's win. TCU had won four consecutive Big 12 games.
Desmond Bane led the Frogs with 21 points but TCU struggled shooting for the second consecutive game. The Frogs were 40.6 percent from the field, including 21.7 percent from 3-point range. They were 2 of 11 from the arc in the second half. Kenrich Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds, but all of his points came in the first half.
Nothing ever seems predictable in the Big 12 tournament and that's especially true this season.
Top-seeded Kansas will play the winner of Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, who start off the tournament at 6 p.m. Wednesday. That game is followed by No. 7 Texas playing No. 10 Iowa State.
A year ago Iowa State won the tournament as the No. 4 seed. In fact, in the five years TCU has been in the league, either Kansas or Iowa State has won the championship. Kansas won it in 2013 and 2016 as the No. 1 seed. The Cyclones have won it twice as the fourth seed and once as the second seed.
The last team besides Kansas, Iowa State (or Missouri, which is now in the SEC), to win the Big 12 tournament was Oklahoma State in 2005. The Cowboys were the third seed that season.
TCU (21-10, 9-9): Brodziansky 8-12 0-0 16, Miller 2-7 2-2 6, Robinson 4-12 2-4 11, Bane 6-13 7-8 21, Williams 3-9 4-5 11, Noi 1-7 0-0 3, Hamdy 2-3 3-4 7, Olden 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-64 18-23 75.
TEXAS TECH (23-8, 11-7): Za.Smith 2-4 2-2 6, Hamilton 1-4 0-0 3, Gray 1-5 5-6 7, Evans 6-11 10-10 23, Stevenson 4-9 2-3 11, Odiase 2-3 2-2 6, Culver 2-2 0-2 6, Zh.Smith 6-9 2-4 15, Francis 1-2 0-0 2, Moretti 0-1 0-0 0, Webster 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-50 23-29 79.
Halftime—TCU 40-35. 3-Point Goals—TCU 5-23 (Bane 2-6, Robinson 1-1, Noi 1-6, Williams 1-6, Brodziansky 0-1, Olden 0-1, Miller 0-2), Texas Tech 6-13 (Culver 2-2, Stevenson 1-1, Hamilton 1-2, Zh.Smith 1-2, Evans 1-3, Gray 0-1, Francis 0-1, Moretti 0-1). Fouled Out—Odiase. Rebounds—TCU 33 (Brodziansky, Williams 10), Texas Tech 25 (Culver 7). Assists—TCU 11 (Robinson 7), Texas Tech 11 (Gray 3). Total Fouls—TCU 23, Texas Tech 20.
Big 12 Conference tournament pairings
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Oklahoma, 6 p.m.
No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Iowa State, 8 p.m.
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 5 TCU, 11:30 a.m.
No. 1 Kansas vs. Oklahoma State/Oklahoma winner, 1:30 p.m.
No. 2 Texas Tech vs. Texas/Iowa State Winner 6 p.m.
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Baylor, 8 p.m.
Semifinal, 6 p.m.
Semifinal, 8 p.m.
Championship, 5 p.m.