TCU fell behind big early Saturday and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to dig itself out.
The No. 24 Horned Frogs did just that and had their chances in the final minutes of the game, but Kansas State held on for the win 73-68 at Bramlage Coliseum.
It’s the fifth close loss in Big 12 Conference play for TCU, which dropped to 14-5, 2-5. It’s the second upset this week for the underrated Wildcats, who beat No. 4 Oklahoma on Tuesday in the Little Apple. K-State (14-5, 4-3) could find itself back in the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday.
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon was ejected for the first time in his career after receiving a second technical foul with 5:23 remaining and the Frogs trailing by seven.
“I’ll take full responsibility for the loss. It’s on me. I gave [Kansas State] points,” Dixon told his team after the game. “In a close game that just killed the team. First time it’s ever happened to me.”
Dixon was surprised by the ejection from the officiating crew of Paul Janssen, Darron George and Brett Smith. He was kneeling courtside when he was ejected.
“I didn’t use any bad language or anything,” he said.
The Wildcats made 3 of 4 technical free throw shots, which turned out to be a significant factor down the stretch.
After Xavier Sneed made 1 of 2 of the technical free throws, TCU went on a 7-2 run to pull to within 62-60. Alex Robinson’s jumper with 3:50 remaining could have been the momentum-turning basket the Frogs needed. But eight seconds late Dean Wade’s dunk pushed the lead back up to four for K-State and the scare TCU was threatening faded. Wade led KSU with 20 points. JD Miller stole an inbounds pass for a dunk to close K-State’s lead to 70-68 with four seconds left but the Wildcats made 3 of their final 4 free throws to hold on to the win.
TCU has lost five conference games, including two in overtime, by a combined 16 points. The Frogs host No. 6 West Virginia at 8 p.m. Monday in Fort Worth.
Robinson, who had 13 points, five rebounds and six assists, shook off the close losses causing an sort of lingering affect.
“We just stay together,” Robinson said. “We’re focusing on our next game, putting this one behind us. Just keep it moving.”
K-State opened the game with a 9-0 lead and led by as much as 12 in the first half. TCU shot its way back into the game and trailed 38-30 at halftime. Kouat Noi led TCU in the first half with seven points. His two 3-points helped pull the Frogs to within 31-28 with 5:32 left. Noi only scored two points in the second half. Wade led K-State with 13 points and five rebounds. K-State shot 50 percent in the half; TCU shot 35.7 percent.
The Wildcats went through a cold shooting stretch during the half after starting out near 70 percent from the field. The Frogs, however, went cold the final 5:30 of the half and K-State finished with a 7-2 run.
TCU (14-5): Miller 3-8 0-0 8, Brodziansky 5-12 3-5 15, Robinson 5-7 3-4 13, Williams 5-11 1-1 11, Bane 2-7 0-0 5, Hamdy 0-0 2-2 2, Noi 3-8 1-2 9, Olden 1-3 2-2 5. Totals 24-56 12-16 68.
KANSAS ST. (14-5): Wade 7-16 2-3 20, Sneed 3-5 3-4 10, Mawien 8-11 2-2 18, Brown 5-11 3-4 15, Diarra 2-5 1-1 6, Stockard 0-1 0-0 0, McGuirl 0-0 0-0 0, Patrick 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 27-51 11-14 73.
Halftime—Kansas St. 38-30. 3-Point Goals—TCU 8-26 (Miller 2-5, Brodziansky 2-5, Noi 2-6, Olden 1-3, Bane 1-4, Williams 0-3), Kansas St. 8-19 (Wade 4-9, Brown 2-4, Sneed 1-3, Diarra 1-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—TCU 29 (Williams 10), Kansas St. 21 (Wade 6). Assists—TCU 13 (Robinson 6), Kansas St. 18 (Brown 9). Total Fouls—TCU 15, Kansas St. 18. Technicals—TCU coach Jamie Dixon 2. A—11,194 (12,528).