The TCU men showed they can close out a game, locking down a 62-42 victory at Texas Tech on Saturday, and just in time, with No. 20 Texas visiting on Monday night.
“It never ends in this league,” coach Trent Johnson said. “It never, never ends.”
But the Horned Frogs (14-3, 1-3 Big 12) can at least go forward not having to doubt whether they can finish. They scored 11 of the game’s final 16 points after a Tech flurry temporarily charged the home crowd.
It was what the Frogs had failed to do in losses to West Virginia, at Kansas State and most egregiously against Baylor when they led by five points with less than five minutes to go and lost in overtime.
“We were very close,” guard Kyan Anderson said of the 0-3 start. “It’s a team that’s still learning how to finish out close games. We haven’t been in those situations as much. Just a team that’s still learning how to fight through the whole 40 minutes.”
Johnson credited the decision-making of Anderson, a senior, down the stretch.
“I thought Kyan did a really, really good job of making good decisions when Texas Tech made runs,” he said.
But as much as anything, it came down to the formula TCU had used to win its first 13 games and remain competitive in its losses — defense and rebounds.
Tech became the fifth opponent held under 50 points by the Horned Frogs this season, and the Horned Frogs outrebounded the opponent for the first time in conference, but the 13th time this season.
It is the formula the Horned Frogs will have to rely on against Texas (13-4, 2-2), which is the No. 1 team in the league in rebounding (42.9 per game) and rebounding margin (plus-12.2).
Both teams are the toughest to score against in the league, in points and field goal percentage.
“Again, for us to win anywhere, against anybody, we’ve got to defend, we’ve got to rebound,” Johnson said.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760
No. 20 Texas at TCU men
6 p.m. Monday, Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center