TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon has lived through a few losing streaks during 14 seasons at the Division I level.
But the Horned Frogs’ current slide, which reached three consecutive setbacks with Monday’s 89-76 loss to Oklahoma State, is a puzzler to the former TCU player in his first season at the helm of his alma mater.
“We’ve outrebounded our last three opponents and lost. That’s hard to do,” Dixon said after watching TCU squander a 35-30 edge on the boards (13-5 on the offensive glass) because of another subpar shooting night from the perimeter. “I’ve never been a part of that.”
Now, he has. The Frogs (14-6, 3-5 Big 12) dropped their third game in five nights to a league opponent at Gallagher-Iba Arena, shooting just 39.3 percent from the floor against an OSU team that began the contest tied for last place in the conference standings.
But the Cowboys (12-8, 2-6) never trailed against TCU, connecting on 54.2 percent of their shots while racing to a 6-0 lead to open the contest and reeling off a 10-2 spurt after TCU rallied to tie the game for the final time, 51-51, with 10:39 to play.
OSU eventually built a 17-point advantage behind the sharp shooting of guard Jawun Evans (game-high 27 points) and forward Jeffrey Carroll (19 points, 10 rebounds), who combined to make 16 of the 23 shots they attempted. TCU found the range on just 6 of 26 from beyond the arc after shooting a season-low 29.3 percent from the floor in Saturday’s 62-53 loss to No. 6 Baylor.
“Everybody in the locker room is disappointed. This is a game we should have won,” said TCU guard/forward Kenrich Williams, who added another double/double performance (20 points, 12 rebounds) in the loss. “We just got outplayed.”
Mix in last week’s 75-69 loss at Texas Tech, when an 0-for-6 shooting stretch in the final 3:08 provided the turning point in a tie game, and it’s become clear opponents have begun to get a handle on how to slow the Frogs’ offense: pack defenders in a zone defense to make things difficult for forward Vladimir Brodziansky, the team’s leading scorer, and let the other Frogs fire away from the perimeter.
Everybody in the locker room is disappointed. This is a game we should have won.
TCU guard/forward Kenrich Williams
Dixon said Oklahoma State was “much more compact” in its defensive approach Monday and benefited as five of TCU’s primary perimeter shooters (Brandon Parrish, Alex Robinson, Jaylen Fisher, Michael Willams and JD Miller) combined to go 3 for 18 on 3s (16.7 pct.) and 8 of 32 overall (25 percent).
“They sagged in and made us make jump shots. We didn’t make jump shots,” Dixon said. “But we haven’t done that for three games. It’s no secret. We’ve got to shoot it better than this. The last three games have all been pretty similar.”
Indeed, the Frogs got solid production from Brodziansky (20 points, 6 rebounds) and Williams. But it wasn’t enough and the remaining Big 12 schedule is not user-friendly for TCU in this turnaround season for a team coming off last year’s 12-21 record.
Everybody’s been telling us what a surprise we are and how much better we’ve been than people thought. But this is disappointing.
TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon
The Frogs, a combined 2-38 on the rorad in five Big 12 seasons (1-3 under Dixon), already have played road games against three of the four teams that were tied with them or behind TCU in Monday’s league standings. The lone exception is Oklahoma, a team the Frogs defeated in Fort Worth on Jan. 3 and will face March 4 in Norman, Okla.
Players acknowledged they were stung by Monday’s missed opportunity for another momentum-building road win, as well as the manner in which it unfolded: with OSU outscoring TCU 38-25 over the final 10:39 and finishing with a 50-26 edge on points in the paint.
“They just played harder than us. We took too many jumps shots and the ball stuck a little bit too much in our hands,” Brodziansky said.
2-38 TCU’s road record in five seasons as a Big 12 member after Monday’s loss at Oklahoma State
The challenge at this point is responding to the team’s first extended taste of adversity after opening the season with a 14-3 record that matched the fastest start through 17 games of any season in school history.
“Everybody’s been telling us what a surprise we are and how much better we’ve been than people thought. But this is disappointing,” Dixon said. “They had some things to do with it, too. Every league game we’ve been [tied or ahead] in the second half. We’ve got to finish it and we’ve got to get it done. There’s no excuses. It’s on us.”
TCU (14-6): Brodziansky 5-10 9-10 20, K.Williams 7-10 4-4 20, Robinson 3-8 6-6 13, B.Parrish 0-6 1-2 1, Fisher 3-7 0-0 7, Shepherd 3-4 0-0 6, Washburn 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 1-7 2-2 5, Bane 1-4 0-0 2, M.Williams 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 24-61 22-24 76.
OKLAHOMA ST. (12-8): Hammonds 1-4 4-4 6, Solomon 3-4 2-2 8, Forte 4-10 0-0 9, Evans 11-17 3-3 27, Carroll 5-6 8-8 19, McGriff 0-1 0-0 0, Averette 3-7 0-0 6, Dziagwa 0-0 0-0 0, Waters 0-1 0-0 0, Dillard 3-7 3-4 10, N’Guessan 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 32-59 20-21 89.
Halftime—Oklahoma St. 32-29. 3-Point Goals—TCU 6-26 (K.Williams 2-5, Brodziansky 1-2, Robinson 1-3, Miller 1-3, Fisher 1-5, Bane 0-1, M.Williams 0-3, B.Parrish 0-4), Oklahoma St. 5-15 (Evans 2-4, Carroll 1-1, Dillard 1-2, Forte 1-6, Hammonds 0-1, McGriff 0-1). Fouled Out—Hammonds, Robinson. Rebounds—TCU 31 (K.Williams 12), Oklahoma St. 26 (Carroll 10). Assists—TCU 10 (Robinson, Fisher 3), Oklahoma St. 13 (Evans 8). Total Fouls—TCU 20, Oklahoma St. 18.