Despite loss, TCU’s Johnson says he would take the train again

TCU guard Kyan Anderson (5) shoots as Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) defends in the second half Saturday. Anderson scored 16 points as Oklahoma won 67-60.
TCU guard Kyan Anderson (5) shoots as Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) defends in the second half Saturday. Anderson scored 16 points as Oklahoma won 67-60. AP

TCU coach Trent Johnson didn’t blame a long train trip for his team’s loss at Oklahoma on Saturday.

In fact, he’d do it again.

“If getting on a train in those kind of weather conditions means we’re going to play like that, we’ll probably be going by train a lot more now. I can tell you that,” he said.

The Horned Frogs again pleased Johnson with their overall play, despite the 67-60 loss. They shot 41.5 percent, led from the 7:25 mark of the first half to the 3:33 mark of the second half, and were up by 12 points in the first half. Senior guards Kyan Anderson and Trey Zeigler each had 16 points and combined for nine assists.

“I thought our guys showed great resiliency in terms of not making excuses and playing the game,” Johnson said. “I thought we played as well as we played in the previous three or four games. But to run out of gas? Nah, I’m not going to say we ran out of gas. Because if I felt we were running out of gas, I’d have probably put someone else in there. We were in position to win the game. They just got to the free-throw line and made some plays, and we didn’t. It happens.”

The Horned Frogs had been scheduled to bus to Norman on Friday for the 1 p.m. Saturday tip. But the bus company balked because of the icy road conditions. That left TCU to try an Amtrak train departing in the 5 o’clock hour from Fort Worth. But because of delays, the team didn’t arrive in Norman until 1 a.m. and didn’t get to its hotel until 2 a.m.

“We all know if we were traveling by bus or by plane and these kids get to the hotel around 10 o’clock, they’re going to lay around, anyway,” Johnson said. “You can give them a curfew at 11, they probably won’t go to sleep.”

Johnson said the trip was actually enjoyable, even considering how long it took.

“The kids could rest. Nobody was on the train, basically, but us and a few other passengers,” he said.

On the road

TCU visits Oklahoma State on Wednesday, and Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the league’s toughest places to play.

But Johnson said the Horned Frogs have shown good composure in pressure environments.

“The reason we’ve been able to compete on a high level on the road as of late is because we’ve had eight or nine guys who have been playing pretty well, and we’ve made some open shots, and we’ve kept our composure,” he said. “It’s not just any one individual who’s going to be able to help us get it done versus the people we play on the road. It’s a collective effort.”

Anderson has scored 30 points with 11 assists in the last two road games, at Kansas and Oklahoma. Zeigler had 36 points and 11 rebounds in those games.

“Whether it’s been Kansas, whether it’s been Oklahoma, we’ve been having contributions from everybody offensively and defensively,” Johnson said.

Player award

Zeigler was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after scoring 16 points against Texas Tech and 15 against Oklahoma last week. He shot 12-for-23 in the two games, with a season-high five assists against Oklahoma. He has scored 15 or more in the past three games, shooting 50 percent or better in each game.

Big 12 scenarios

The Horned Frogs have clinched the No. 9 seed in the Big 12 tournament bracket next week, so they will play the No. 8 seed — Texas, Kansas State or Oklahoma State — at 6 p.m. March 11 on ESPNU. The winner will play the No. 1 seed at 1:30 p.m. the next day on ESPN2.

If Texas loses on Saturday (at home against Kansas State), it will be the No. 8 seed. Texas swept the season series against TCU, winning by 20 and 23 points. TCU has split with Kansas State and is 1-0 against Oklahoma State.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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