The tried-and-true maxim that there’s no such thing as a free lunch includes TCU and its pursuit of Big 12 Conference victories — and even free-throw attempts, for that matter.
The Horned Frogs had every opportunity within their grasp to capture an elusive league victory, but unforced errors, missed free throws and poor rebounding down the stretch sent TCU to its 21st consecutive conference loss.
Baylor forward Rico Gathers had 17 points and 18 rebounds and guard Kenny Chery hit 7 of 8 free throws in overtime for the Bears, who, despite shooting 29 percent from the floor, escaped Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center with a 66-59 victory over TCU on Saturday.
The Horned Frogs (13-3 overall, 0-3 Big 12), who are at the bottom of the conference in free-throw shooting, shot 54 percent from the line in 28 attempts. Baylor was 31 for 46, including 18 of 24 in the second half and overtime.
“We certainly had our opportunities,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “It’s getting old. Defensively, when you hold a team on the half court to 29 percent … you got to clean up what you do on the glass.”
TCU gave up nine offensive rebounds in the second half, including six by Gathers.
Baylor (12-3, 1-2) failed to record a field goal for more than three minutes of the first half and didn’t score at all for more than four minutes in the second half. During one stretch between the first and second halves, the Bears were 8 for 39.
TCU, though, failed to put any distance between it and its foe.
Trey Zeigler’s dunk on the baseline off a pass from Brandon Parrish put TCU up four with 7:04 left in regulation and its home crowd on its feet. But with a chance to turn the run into real momentum, the Frogs stalled with a turnover that the Bears converted into points.
Another good opportunity soon presented itself in the form of a 5-0 run sparked by Kyan Anderson’s 3-pointer and Amric Fields’ layup — off an Anderson assist — putting TCU up five with 4:46 to go.
Karviar Shepherd’s rebound on a miss by Baylor’s Royce O’Neale gave the ball back to TCU, which instantly slowed the game down in its half court.
Anderson, however, made a sloppy pass that was intercepted by Taurean Prince, who drove uncontested three-quarters of the court for a dunk. Lester Medford was fouled on a layup and his free throw erased TCU’s lead.
“We put ourselves in position to win the game,” said Anderson, who had a team-high 16 for TCU. “If you have a chance to win the game, you’re doing something positive.
“We have to learn to put a whole game together.”
Baylor forward Taurean Prince had 17 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in overtime. Shepherd had eight points and eight rebounds and Zeigler registered nine points for TCU. Both missed much of the first half in foul trouble.
Johnson scoffed at a suggestion his team needed a good experience to “learn how to win.”
It’s all about execution down the stretch, the coach said.
“I’m not one into false confidence,” Johnson said. “What’s beating us is the inability to keep people off the glass. That’s mental, physical toughness … inability to make free throws.
“We’re just talking about playing better.”