JD Miller taking it all the way to the bucket ranked as the last option for TCU’s final play against Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. Sometimes the last option works.
It did for Miller and the Frogs. Miller provided the heroics late, taking a pass near midcourt and driving into the lane for fadeaway jumper that swished through the net for a 70-68 victory over Oklahoma State at the buzzer.
“To be truly honest, the play was not supposed to go to me,” Miller said. “I was supposed to pass back to KD [Kendric Davis], but it just so happened it happened and it worked out great. It’s a great feeling to get a win in the home crib.”
It’s the first game-winner for Miller since high school, and the first game-winner at the buzzer that Jamie Dixon remembers in his short tenure at TCU.
But Miller provided the unlikely ending at Schollmaier Arena. The senior forward was just 2-for-11 from the field, and had missed his previous four shots.
That didn’t shake his confidence.
“Really, it builds more confidence,” Miller said. “Me missing, I’m like, ‘I’m going to make the next one.’ Just keep on going, so it is what it is.”
Miller described his shot as “a little fadeaway jumper” that he makes all the time in practice. His teammates agreed.
“That’s JD’s shot,” said junior guard Desmond Bane, who had a team-leading 26 points. “For real.”
The play’s first option had been designed to go to senior point guard Alex Robinson, but the Cowboys took that away. Another option was to kick it back out to Davis at the top of the key for a deep 3-pointer. But Miller used his improvisational skills to get a look down low.
“It’s probably our last option, but it is an option,” Dixon said, smiling. “I thought it would’ve been a better play for him to give it to Kendric down there. They took away Alex as we thought. We anticipated that. It’s something that we’ve practiced over and over, but I don’t know that we’ve had it finish like that before. He was in the spot he was supposed to be.”
Miller’s game-winner served as the storyline on a night Robinson set the school’s all-time assists record and Bane joined the 1,000-point club.
TCU, after squandering a 13-point first-half lead and playing from behind late, had a 68-65 lead with 24 seconds left in regulation.
Oklahoma State’s Thomas Dziagwa made a 3-pointer with five seconds left that looked as though it would send the game into overtime. But Miller came to the rescue for the Frogs.
It was a much-needed win for a TCU team (16-6, 4-5 Big 12) that had been blown out in its previous two games. The Frogs scored 70 points for the first time in six games and finally found the winning touch.
A loss to Oklahoma State (9-13, 2-7 Big 12) could have hurt TCU’s NCAA Tournament chances in the long run. Instead, it’ll be remembered as a buzzer-beater victory and an early February win.
“You need one of those,” Dixon said. “It feels good. I’m happy for the guys.”
TCU next faces Iowa State (18-5, 7-3 Big 12) on Saturday afternoon in Ames. The Frogs will be looking to earn their first Big 12 road win of the season.