TCU’s two-game winning streak against Big 12 opponents, the Horned Frogs’ longest during five seasons as a conference member, could not withstand Texas Tech’s hot start and home-court swagger Wednesday night.
The Red Raiders, undefeated in United Supermarkets Arena this season, made their first seven shots — five from the field, two from the foul line — while building a quick double-digit lead and withstood a second-half rally by TCU to knock off the Horned Frogs 75-69.
TCU (14-4, 3-3 Big 12) took a handful of brief, second-half leads as forward Vladimir Brodziansky (22 points, six rebounds) spurred the offense. But Tech (14-4, 3-3) managed to close things out down the stretch to raise its home record to 12-0 this season.
After TCU rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the game at 64-64 on Desmond Bane’s layup with 4:50 remaining, the Frogs missed their next six shots while Tech went on a 6-0 run to take control. Red Raiders guard Keenan Evans led the charge with 20 points, including three free throws that started the game-turning spurt after Bane fouled him on a 3-point attempt with 3:08 to play and the score deadlocked at 64.
The late cold stretch, as well as a significant discrepancy in points from the foul line (Tech made 25 free throws; TCU made five), spelled defeat for the Frogs. But it was a setback that left first-year coach Jamie Dixon optimistic about the Frogs’ grit they displayed while handling adversity in a hostile environment.
“Obviously, we had to do things differently. We responded in a good way, but we didn’t get it done,” Dixon said, reflecting on a night when Tech was called for 11 fouls and TCU was whistled for 25.
Tech shot 31 free throws. TCU attempted nine. For TCU, Bane fouled out, Brodziansky finished with four fouls and starting point guard Jaylen Fisher (3 points, 1 assist) was limited to 15 minutes because of foul trouble. No Tech player finished with more than three fouls.
Dixon drew a technical foul in the first half for disputing a foul on guard Alex Robinson but made it clear he would not use “the elephant in the room” as an excuse for Wednesday’s loss during his postgame comments.
“It is what it is. We’re not going to make excuses. We’re not an excuse team,” Dixon said. “I told our guys we can’t leave any doubt. We’ve got to find ways to be better than we were.”
Down the stretch, TCU could not. After clawing back to tie the game by leaning on another strong shooting night from Brodziansky (9-of-13), Tech began double-teaming the 6-foot-11 junior in the closing moments. Brodziansky began kicking the ball to teammates for open jumpers. TCU missed six in a row, the final five by guards.
“At the end, we didn’t make some open shots. Which is maybe bad luck,” Brodziansky said.
“A lot of things didn’t go our way. A lot of shots didn’t fall,” said Robinson (11 points, nine assists), who missed two of the final five jumpers in that stretch. “But our guys continued to fight and that’s what really matters.”
This time, for a change, the Frogs fell short in a close game. Even with the loss, TCU remains 6-2 in games decided by single-digit margins this season, including a 3-2 mark against Big 12 opponents. Dixon said mounting the second-half rally while using a patchwork lineup, at times, to compensate for foul problems could pay long-term dividends.
“You draw up a game plan but you have to adjust when situations occur. We had different guys that performed well for us tonight, and that demonstrated a lot against a good team. I’m proud of my guys. I really feel good about them after this. We’re going to learn from it.”
TCU (14-4): Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Brodziansky 9-13 2-2 22, K.Williams 6-14 3-5 16, Fisher 1-3 0-0 3, Robinson 5-11 0-0 11, Shepherd 0-2 0-0 0, Washburn 0-0 0-2 0, Bane 3-7 0-0 6, M.Williams 2-3 0-0 6, B.Parrish 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 28-59 5-9 69.
TEXAS TECH (14-4): Smith 7-13 5-6 19, Gray 5-9 7-10 18, Livingston 2-6 0-0 5, Evans 5-9 8-8 20, Thomas 2-4 3-3 8, Temple 0-0 0-0 0, Ross 1-4 2-2 5, Brandsma 0-0 0-0 0, Stevenson 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 22-47 25-31 75.
Halftime—Texas Tech 41-33. 3-Point Goals—TCU 8-27 (Brodziansky 2-2, M.Williams 2-3, Fisher 1-3, B.Parrish 1-4, K.Williams 1-5, Robinson 1-5, Miller 0-1, Bane 0-4), Texas Tech 6-14 (Evans 2-4, Gray 1-2, Thomas 1-2, Livingston 1-3, Ross 1-3). Fouled Out—Bane. Rebounds—TCU 28 (Robinson 8), Texas Tech 26 (Smith 7). Assists—TCU 12 (Robinson 9), Texas Tech 12 (Smith, Evans 3). Total Fouls—TCU 25, Texas Tech 11. Technicals—TCU team. A—10,052 (15,098).