Kansas State entered Saturday’s game as arguably the hottest team in the Big 12. TCU couldn’t end that storyline.
Not on a day it scored a season-low in points. Not on a day it had more turnovers (18) than assists (10). Not on a day it played without its second-leading scorer, sophomore forward Kouat Noi, or its first game since Jaylen Fisher left the program.
K-State never trailed in a 65-55 victory over TCU at Bramlage Coliseum, as it has now won four straight games in league play.
“We knew going into it they were a good defensive team,” TCU junior guard Desmond Bane said. “We just didn’t execute our game plan. But give them credit, they’re a good defensive team. They really sit in the gaps and get after it, but we’ve just got to play better.”
The Frogs (13-4, 2-3 Big 12), who entered with the Big 12’s highest scoring offense at 80.4 points per game, had an uncharacteristic game offensively. They were below their season averages in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and assists (the 10 were a season low).
But TCU managed to stay within striking distance much of the game.
TCU pulled to within 47-43 on a Bane breakaway layup with 12:24 left, but K-State responded with a 9-1 run to take a 56-44 lead with 6:16 lead. The Frogs never threatened after that in their first double-digit loss of the season.
“Just have to keep our heads up,” said senior point guard Alex Robinson, who had a team-leading 17 points but also committed a season-high eight turnovers. “This is a long season. We have to move on to the next one.”
Said K-State coach Bruce Weber: “We made it hard on Robinson. He is magical with the ball.”
Coach Jamie Dixon took the blame for the team’s turnovers. As stated, Robinson had an unusually high number and freshman Kendric Davis had the most of his young career with five.
The Frogs turned it over a variety of ways, from letting the shot clock expire to traveling to double dribbling to careless passes.
“That’s (K-State’s) thing — turnover percentage,” Dixon said. “We know that. We prepared for it. We talked about it. We didn’t get it done. That’s on me. I’ve got to get that message across. It was drilled. It was talked about. It was emphasized.
“But, again, we didn’t put the right game plan in place. I felt like we followed our game plan, but we certainly got what we deserved. That’s what they do. We’re a low turnover team. They did what they wanted to do.”
K-State opened the game on a 7-0 run, and also had a 9-0 run late in the first half. TCU took a little momentum going into the locker room when Davis drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 37-30 at half.
TCU stayed in it much of the second half, but foul trouble and depth eventually caught up. Center Kevin Samuel fouled out for the second consecutive game, and Bane was called for three fouls in the opening half.
K-State went to the line 11 more times than TCU (18-of-24 for K-State compared to 9-of-13 for TCU).
Of course, playing without Noi didn’t help matters either. Noi has averaged 14.2 points in 13 games this season, but hadn’t practiced this week with an illness.
Dixon wouldn’t use that as an excuse, but it played a part in TCU having true freshman center Russell Barlow make his debut. The Frogs hoped to redshirt Barlow, who will not be eligible for it now, but they need post depth and he’s been practicing well of late.
Barlow finished with two points and had four rebounds over 20 minutes of action.
In the end, nothing was enough for TCU. It simply didn’t have enough to knock off a red-hot K-State team. Next up for TCU is a home game against Texas on Wednesday.