An upset is never welcomed, but Tuesday night might not be the worst thing to happen for TCU’s basketball team.
Little known Lipscomb proved to be more physical and more clutch in rolling to a 73-64 victory over No. 18 TCU at Schollmaier Arena.
It served as a wake-up call. It reminded TCU’s players that there is a target on their back. Opposing teams such as Lipscomb view TCU as a way to make an early-season statement.
“This opened our eyes up for real today,” senior forward JD Miller said. “We’ll be ready.”
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The Bison completed the DFW sweep this week, downing SMU 79-73 on Saturday in Dallas and then TCU in Fort Worth.
TCU knew the danger of facing a Lipscomb team going into it. The Bison reached the NCAA Tournament last season and had several returning starters.
Those are the kinds of teams coach Jamie Dixon wants to face in nonconference. He prides himself in having a tough schedule, consistently ranking among the Top 20 in the country.
The issue with that is games like Tuesday night are going to happen at times.
All seemed well early on. TCU jumped out to a 22-8 lead, but that didn’t last long.
The Frogs went into a scoring drought, not making a shot from the field for nearly seven minutes until senior point guard Alex Robinson drained a 3-pointer with 1:55 left.
TCU managed to take a 30-29 lead into halftime, but Lipscomb started the second half on a 10-2 run to take a 39-32 lead.
The Bison extended that lead to 52-40 by the 10:45 mark.
“We came out ready, defended really well early, but our offense never got going,” Dixon said. “That’s kind of been our M.O. through these four games. We got to work on it, we’ve got to get better at it, we’ve got to cut down on turnovers … we’ve got a lot of improvements. We’ll get to work tomorrow.”
TCU made a late push to get back in the game. Freshman guard Kendric Davis rose to the occasion late, making consecutive baskets to pull TCU to within 60-59 with 3:21 left.
But Lipscomb never surrendered the lead. The dagger proved to be a 3-pointer by Bison senior Garrison Mathews that made it 69-63 with 1:12 left.
“It turned into a game we didn’t want to be playing,” Dixon said. “We played guys in different positions. We practice one way and it seems we have different guys on the floor in every one of our games. That’s another situation. We felt we had to because of how our offense was going. We needed to penetrate. I simply didn’t think we would struggle as much as we did offensively. We haven’t been very good.”
TCU finished the game shooting 44 percent form the field (22-of-50), 28.6 percent from 3-point range (6-of-21) and 56 percent from the free throw line (14-of-25). The Frogs had 16 turnovers to 15 assists.
The most telling stat may be Lipscomb’s 3-point percentage – 19 percent (4-of-21). Upsets usually happen when a team gets hot from 3-point range, but that simply wasn’t the case on Tuesday.
“Obviously a disappointing night for us,” Dixon said. “They outplayed us. They outcoached us. They were more physical than we were. And they beat us down the stretch.”
It marked the first loss by the Frogs in November under Dixon. They went into the game 17-0.
And it’s the first time that Lipscomb has defeated a ranked team in school history. The Bison had been 0-13 in those situations, with all losses by double digits.
But, as Miller and Dixon pointed out, this isn’t the end of the world for TCU. Losses happen in basketball, especially with a team still figuring out its rotation.
Sophomore forward Kouat Noi and junior guard Jaylen Fisher returned from knee injuries on Tuesday, but neither made the desired impact.
Noi shot only 3-pointers, going 1-for-7 and pulling down nine rebounds. Fisher was scoreless over seven minutes in the first half, opting to sit out the second half because he still doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with his knee.
“I’m putting teams out there that I don’t feel we’ve practiced enough with them,” Dixon said. “It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the situation we’ve been in. I think it’s affected our offense.”
More time on the floor will help all involved, just like the teachable moments from Tuesday’s letdown. Dixon has been around long enough to know these types of games are bound to happen.
It’s part of the territory when you schedule the highest-rated A-Sun team, according to KenPom.com.
“This does not end our season,” Dixon said. “We’ve got a lot of games left. We will get better.”