TCU basketball, playing as if its entire season was on the line, handed No. 7 West Virginia a 82-73 loss in front of a raucous sold-out crowd at Schollmaier Arena on Monday night.
The Horned Frogs (15-5, 3-5 Big 12), who fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 earlier in the day, took a two-point lead at halftime and exploded after the break to build a 13-point lead. The Mountaineers (16-4, 5-3) were held to three points over the first 7:30 of the second half.
It was a big moment for TCU basketball, which was coming off a loss on the road to unranked Kansas State.
It’s the first time TCU has beaten a ranked team at home and the first time TCU has beaten West Virginia after losing the first 11 meetings.
It was also the first time the Frogs had hosted a Big Monday ESPN game, the networks signature college basketball event.
“So for our guys I’m really excited, but for our fans I think I’m even more excited because they deserved this,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “Our students were terrific and they have been unbelievable. I’m kind of overwhelmed by that.”
Dixon shot humorous promotional videos imploring fans to bring the noise. They were up for the challenge, including the TCU men’s swim team wearing nothing but their Speedos and “G-O-F-R-O-G-S-!” painted on their chests and the student section pretending to read newspapers when the Mountaineers players were introduced.
“I’m happy for our students, I’m happy for our fans,” Dixon said. “That’s the kind of home-court I envisioned coming back here. That’s the one we wanted.”
It all culminated in a stellar response to a crossroads moment in the season for the Frogs on the court. The players responded with one of their best games of the season. The held the rebound advantage, the shooting advantage and blocks advantage, including a career-high-tying five from Vladimir Brodziansky.
TCU outscored WVU 10-3 to start the second half. Desmond Bane hit two 3s and a layup for eight points in the surge.
Kouat Noi was ejected after being called for a flagrant foul with 10:11 left in the game. It appeared to be a classic case of the officials seeing the retaliation and not the original foul. Teammates had to restrain Noi from going after WVU’s Wesley Harris. He and Noi made contact while running the court.
Seconds later, Shawn Olden hit a 3 from the corner to push the TCU lead to 17.
From there, TCU kept the pressure on and the lead double-digits. Olden, who had no points in the first half, was 3 for 4 from the 3-point arc after Noi was ejected. Four Frogs finished in double figures, including Alex Robinson’s game-high 17 points.
TCU plays at Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. Saturday as part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge. The Frogs resume Big 12 action on Tuesday at Oklahoma State (13-6, 3-4).
TCU led 35-33 after a furious stretch to close out the first half. After falling behind by seven with 4:12 remaining in the first period, the Frogs closed out the half with a 11-2 run.
Robinson got the rally started with a 3-pointer. After an offensive rebound by Kenrich Williams, he fed Noi for a layup to cut the the Mountaineers’ lead to 31-29. Robinson tied it with a layup and could have given the Frogs the lead with a free throw but it missed.
Brodziansky’s defensive rebound and quick feed to Williams led to Bane’s dunk that gave TCU a 33-31 lead. Bane followed with another fast-break layup to push the lead to 35-31.
After a couple of free throws by WVU made it 35-33, Robinson appeared to have connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer but the shot was reviewed and overturned by the officials.