Executing down the stretch, playing intense defense and hitting clutch shots, the TCU men ended nearly two years of losing Big 12 basketball games with a 62-42 victory at Texas Tech on Saturday.
It barely made an impression.
“I don’t think about that at all. I don’t know what it was,” said senior guard Kyan Anderson, who scored 19 points and had three assists and two steals. “You’ve got to remind me.”
It was 23 consecutive losses, starting with a first-round loss in the conference tournament on March 13, 2013, going through last season’s 0-18 conference schedule, plus a postseason tournament loss, and then this season’s opening three losses in conference.
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“That’s a long time,” Anderson said.
But when the buzzer sounded, the Horned Frogs (14-3, 1-3) congratulated each other routinely. They had recorded their first road win in the Big 12, and that — along with the defense that held Texas Tech to 22.9 percent shooting — was a bigger deal to them.
“I thought for the first time since we started league play, we put together two good halves defensively, in terms of maximum effort, trying to put a body on people and rebounding the ball,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “We shared the ball, and we were pretty good defensively. It’s been a long time coming in league play for us this year.”
Anderson credited an intense week of practice since an overtime loss at home to Baylor the previous Saturday.
“Instead of trying to reserve our legs, we’ve just been going hard every time,” he said. “So I feel like that had something to do with it, intensity-wise, coming into this game. Defensively, we did a good job limiting them from fast-break opportunities. We did a good job with that.”
TCU allowed no fast-break points, in fact, and outrebounded the Red Raiders 36-31.
The Horned Frogs started with 3-pointers from Kenrich Williams, making his first start, and Anderson for a 6-0 lead. They were up 31-14 early in the second half on a 3-point play by Chris Washburn, and after the lead was cut to 38-27, TCU pushed it to 46-27 on free throws by Chauncey Collins, layups by Washburn and Trey Zeigler and free throws by Devonta Abron.
It was a comfortable lead with 9:05 left, but Johnson had a keen eye for how the Frogs would execute from the 5-minute mark on. Executing down the stretch and holding up physically were two of the problems for TCU in its losses to West Virginia (by 11 points), Kansas State (by 5 points) and Baylor (by 7 points in overtime).
But after Devaugntah Williams’ 3-pointer for Texas Tech cut the lead to 51-37 with 4:53 left, TCU finished the game with an 11-5 run.
Johnson said that was part of the practice week, too.
“What we’re able to do this year, because we have more bodies, we were able to go from the free-throw line in block-out situations and get back and simulate some 5-on-5 situations where teams get really physical with us,” Johnson said. “Obviously, the games we’ve lost in league play, at the 5-minute mark, we’ve been right there, and throughout the game. So we were able to simulate that and get after each other. The kids have been really testy, and that shows what happens when you care.”
So nobody high-fived the end of the conference losing streak. Instead, the Horned Frogs acknowledged trainer Chris Hall’s 1,000th game with the program and guard Collins’ birthday and then got on the bus.
Johnson was in no mood to celebrate much of anything, anyway, not with No. 20 Texas coming to Fort Worth on Monday.
“The kids can enjoy it for the plane ride home,” he said. “We don’t have time to worry about what’s happened in the past, as opposed to moving forward to the future. That’s for all you guys to talk about and worry about, whether it’s a losing streak or a winning streak. I don’t pay much attention to it, and I don’t talk about it. So I don’t know if they talk about it.”
Doesn’t sound like it.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760