The fine people at The Associated Press didn’t all have the day off Monday, and, like clockwork, the weekly AP Top 25 poll for men’s college basketball was rolled out at its usual time.
Down toward the bottom at No. 24, 15 spots lower than when Big 12 play opened, was TCU. That’s the same TCU that has lost four of its past five games and owns a 1-4 mark in conference play.
Creighton, the first team in the “also receiving votes” grouping, is 4-2 in the Big East and 14-4 overall. Rhode Island is 5-0 in the Atlantic 10, 13-3 overall, and the winners of eight straight games.
Those who have watched the Horned Frogs this season, especially the past two weeks, get it. Apparently, AP voters have been watching, too, and so have the coaches who vote in the USA Today poll and placed TCU at No. 25.
TCU plays in the toughest conference in the country and has lost its four games by a combined 11 points. Two of those came in overtime last week. Two of them came down to the final possession.
The Frogs remain convinced that they are a good team, one of the best in the country, and their standing in the AP poll suggests that TCU is getting the respect it deserves despite the mounting losses.
“I think anybody can see it,” Dixon said Monday. “It’s not like football, where it’s an 11-game season and everyone goes to a bowl. People lose, and in basketball, it’s really how you respond to that loss.
“I told the guys I was excited going forward because we played good against a really good team at their place. It wasn’t like they played bad. They played at a high level. We played at a high level. It was two high-level teams, two of the best teams in the country, going at it. We came up short.”
TCU could use a home game and an unranked opponent, and that’s what they’re getting Wednesday at the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Dixon and sophomore guard Desmond Bane, though, aren’t taking last-place Iowa State for granted.
Bane expects to be at full strength after dealing with a strained right hip flexor that cost him a spot in the starting lineup in Saturday’s 102-97 loss at Oklahoma, which climbed to fourth in the AP rankings.
Bane, like his coach, understands that the Frogs have areas where they must improve. Flaws that good teams take advantage of have been exposed, but TCU’s confidence is hardly in tatters.
“Everybody knows how good we are and how good we can be,” Bane said. “It’s just coming together, play together, play for each other and continue to play tough. We’ve just go to bring it every night and be ready to finish games down the stretch.
“It’s frustrating, but we’re a close group. We’re staying together and sticking to what we know and what we do. We believe that we’re going to get it done.”
But still, a win would be nice even though TCU has 13 conference games remaining.
“It would be good,” Bane said. “We’re still pretty calm. We know how good we are. If we come out and do what we do, we think we’ve still got a chance to win this league.”
And TCU has gained the respect of those who observe college basketball and who vote on Top 25 teams. Despite two losses last week, albeit on the road and in overtime, the Frogs are still ranked and still confident.
“We’re the most disappointed ranked team probably in the country at this point,” Dixon said. “I don’t know if you get any points for that, but that’s where we are. There are 351 teams. A lot of them would like to be where we’re at.”