KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The future in the paint for TCU is Eddie Lampkin. That was never more apparent than in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday against Texas.
But, perhaps, it was apparent to others even before Thursday’s game.
ESPN’s Chris Spatola spoke to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Drew Davison during TCU’s shootaround on Wednesday and the commentator had great things to say about the sophomore center.
“That kid is going to be a star. A star,” Spatola told Davison. “(For TCU head coach Jamie Dixon) to identify that kid, get that kid, develop that kid, is impressive.”
And when guard Mike Miles was hoppled by a foot injury midway through the second half, it was Lampkin that the Horned Frogs turned to in the clutch.
Even TCU head coach Jamie Dixon called Lampkin “the key to everything.”
Down the stretch, it was Lampkin who grabbed the key rebounds and hit the key shots. His second-chance lay-up with 1:37 left gave TCU a 59-58 lead. Then, after Texas forward Christian Bishop hit a free throw and TCU brought it down to the other side of the floor, the Horned Frogs took a timeout with 11 seconds on the shot clock.
It was Lampkin that TCU turned to again.
“When we took the ball out, (Texas forward Timmy) Allen, he had switched on E-Man (Emanuel Miller), so I knew they were going to switch and he was going to play me going halfcourt,” said TCU guard Damion Baugh, who fed Lampkin the go-ahead basket. “So I back-cut it and I knew when I turned, Eddie was going to be right there, so I just threw it over the top to him.”
His layup gave TCU the 62-60 lead and control of the game. Then, at the other end, his rebound after a Marcus Carr miss led to an outlet pass to Francisco Farabello, who was fouled and made two free throws to ice the game.
Lampkin finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. But his impact was felt early in the second half as TCU tried to come back from an 18-point deficit.
His defense, specifically on Bishop, forced Texas out of a rhythm on the offensive end and helped TCU get back in the game.
Dixon called it ‘walling off.’
“That was huge,” Dixon said. “He changed shots early but he also guarded on the perimeter with the ball screen defense, and then one time even switched out to guard a scramble situation, guard a guard out on the perimeter, too.”
Lampkin shed a lot of weight in the offseason and his game has come around in the last six weeks of the season. Entering the tournament he was averaging 6.3 points and six rebounds per game.
His play on Thursday means the Horned Frogs will stick around for another day.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.