TCU flamed out quickly in the Big 12 tournament but the fate of their 2017-18 season remains very much alive.
The Horned Frogs' 66-64 loss to the Wildcats Thursday afternoon at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., wasn't exactly the kind of showing coach Jamie Dixon probably wanted but the early exit has its benefits.
TCU, which is poised to earn its first NCAA tournament bid in 20 years during the 5 p.m. Selection Sunday announcement, will get one thing that a team with an eight-man rotation needs most — rest.
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TCU won't play for at least six days. The earliest they could play would be Thursday. Their first round opponent, time and site will be announced Sunday night.
It's a moment TCU has been waiting for since 1998.
"It's going to be like this for the rest of the year, for the rest of the games left," said Kenrich Williams, who led TCU with 20 points and 10 rebounds. "We know it's lose or go home so we're going to go out and play hard. Just do what Coach says, offensively and defensively."
The preparation and rest time was already on Dixon's mind right after the game.
"So you prepare, you get ready, and we've played guys a lot of minutes," Dixon said. "So in some ways that can be productive, and we'll try to get better. We will watch some film because we had a 9-point lead and we let the thing get away and we've done that a few times, especially on the road."
TCU was 7 of 14 from the free throw line, including two misses (one intentional) by Alex Robinson with a second remaining with a chance to send the game to a second overtime. For such a good-shooting team, 50 percent from the free throw line has haunted the Frogs on multiple occasions.
"We can't get beat at the free throw line. When we've lost we've got beat at the free throw line," Dixon said. "It's that simple. We've got to get to the foul line, we've got to make more free throws. So we've got to get more free throws than our opponent. That's a big goal for us."
The Big 12, which could earn between seven and nine NCAA tournament bids, should prevent the Frogs from dropping much in potential seeding. Before Thursday's loss they were looking at a sixth seed. Now they could earn a seed between six and eight, depending on how other teams across the country fare in their league tournaments.
"We put ourselves in good position. We feel we should have won these two games down the stretch, but we didn't," Dixon said. "As far as the league, it's the best. I never thought it would be possible to get nine teams in the NCAA tournament, but we're giving it as good of a shot as you possibly can. But I think people are really getting a good idea of how good this conference is. But now we've got to go do it in the NCAA tournament. We can say it and say it, but then you gotta do something about it."