TCU

‘Careless with the ball.’ Turnovers spoil TCU’s upset bid at Kansas

After blocking the shot of TCU’s Alex Robinson late in Wednesday night’s game, KU guard Devon Dotson got a hearty chest bump from teammate Lagerald Vick, left, as TCU coach Jamie Dixon looks on. KU beat TCU, 77-68.
After blocking the shot of TCU’s Alex Robinson late in Wednesday night’s game, KU guard Devon Dotson got a hearty chest bump from teammate Lagerald Vick, left, as TCU coach Jamie Dixon looks on. KU beat TCU, 77-68. rsugg@kcstar.com

TCU had its chances to make history on Wednesday night.

The 25th-ranked Frogs had the talent and matched up with the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks in just about every facet.

But, if you’re going to pull off an upset at historic Allen Fieldhouse, you can’t have a season-high in turnovers.

“The ball was sticking,” junior guard Desmond Bane said. “We hadn’t seen pressure like that this year. We were loose with the ball, careless with the ball. There’s no real answer for it. It’s just taking care of the basketball.”

Turnovers, in the end, did TCU in. Kansas pulled away late for a 77-68 victory, improving to 8-0 when TCU visits Lawrence.

But TCU wasn’t an easy out. The Frogs rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to make it a one-possession game multiple times late.

Bane knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 68-65 with 3:34 left. Just as KU was seemingly pulling away a couple minutes later, TCU’s Alex Robinson nailed a 3-pointer to make it 71-68 with 1:49 left.

Those were the last points TCU would score, though. The Frogs had a costly turnover by Kouat Noi with 1:12 left, and then Bane turned it over on a traveling call with 36 seconds left.

TCU finished with a season-high 20 turnovers compared to just 12 assists. The Frogs entered the game with the Big 12’s best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7).

“The 20 turnovers stand out,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “I thought we’d handle it better. We didn’t. We’ll learn from it. We’ve got a 1 p.m. game on Saturday [at Oklahoma].”

The other stat that stood out to Dixon is the free throw differential. KU went 20 of 27 from the line, more than double the attempts TCU had (9 of 13).

TCU also didn’t have an answer for KU junior forward Dedric Lawson, who scored a season-high 31 points. Every time TCU made a run, Lawson seemed to have an answer for KU.

“[Lawson] can play,” Dixon said. “He’s old and experienced.”

Give the Frogs credit for staying in it.

TCU trailed 40-31 at the half, but opened the second half strong. Center Kevin Samuel scored the team’s first four points and drew a charge early in the second half.

TCU pulled to within 52-50 with 12:38 left. The Frogs went on a 7-0 run, capped with a transition layup by Noi with an assist by Robinson.

But TCU never pulled ahead.

Lawson went on a 9-0 run on his own, draining a 3-pointer to make it 64-53 with 8:06 left. The best TCU could do is get to within one possession after that, impressive considering the game could have gotten out of hand.

“We’re never going to give up,” Bane said. “We’ve got a hungry group.”

TCU matched KU for much of the first half. The Jayhawks made just 2-of-11 3-point attempts in the first half.

But TCU wasn’t itself on the offensive end. Once again, turnovers were the storyline. A team that entered the game leading the Big 12 in assists (20.2 per game) didn’t show it.

TCU had more turnovers (10) than assists (six) in the opening half. Careless turnovers by Robinson and RJ Nembhard late in the opening half helped the Jayhawks close on an 11-3 run.

TCU was without junior guard Jaylen Fisher for the second consecutive game. Fisher missed the conference opener against Baylor and the KU game as he continues to deal with swelling in his right knee.

Nembhard started in Fisher’s place, and scored a career- and team-high 14 points on 3 of 6 shooting. Bane had 13 points, while Samuel and Robinson each finished with 12.

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Drew Davison is the TCU and Big 12 sports writer for the Star-Telegram. He’s covered everything in DFW from Rangers to Cowboys to motor sports.

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