Big 12 Basketball

Three Thoughts from TCU’s 80-67 Win Over Kansas State

Desi Sills, Micah Peavy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The TCU Horned Frogs defeated the Kansas State Wildcats, 80-67, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday at T-Mobile Center. Here are three thoughts on the game.

TCU (21-11) will play Texas in one of the Big 12 Tournament semifinals at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Kansas and Iowa State will play in the first game at 6 p.m.


How TCU Won

The most unlikely reason you could think of — the 3-pointer. TCU is the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big 12 by percentage, 29.6 percent. Now, the Horned Frogs have had their moments this season, and Thursday night turned out to be a moment.

Up 68-55 with 7:36 left, the Horned Frogs were shooting 50 percent from the arc and had made 10 3-pointers. Mike Miles had four and Chuck O’Bannon — who was putting together one of the best games of his season — had four of them. TCU had 11 3-pointers in all and ultimately shot 44 percent from there.

It was an unlikely bonus on a night where the things that normally drive the Horned Frogs to victories worked. Miles ran the point and produced, scoring 22 points and dishing out four assists. O’Bannon also had 22 points.

TCU drove to the basket, created contact and went 15-for-21 from the free-throw line. And, the Horned Frogs’ underrated defense came to play, forcing 20 Kansas State turnovers and scoring 20 off those mistakes. That was crucial to building a 37-32 halftime lead and maintaining it.


How Kansas State Lost

Turnovers were an obvious culprit, but that’s been a constant for Kansas State this season. But it wasn’t just on guard Markquis Nowell. He had just five of Kansas State’s 20 turnovers. Keyontae Johnson had four and Desi Sills had three. With the way the Horned Frogs were producing from beyond the arc, giving up those possessions hurt.

It was oddly reminiscent of their first meeting, when Kansas State had 20 turnovers in their first loss of the Big 12 season. That night they were down by 14 at the break and never got back into the game.

This time, down just five at halftime, the Wildcats sparked a small run to start the second half, but TCU snuffed it out. The fact that Kansas State actually shot better than TCU from both the field and the free throw line didn’t help. Kansas State shot less than 30 percent from the 3-point line and made just seven 3’s. The Wildcats also didn’t have a single fast break point and were beaten on second-chance points, 25-15.

Like their first meeting, Nowell had trouble getting on track as a scorer until late and when that happens K-State tends to have problems. He finished with 11 points. Johnson had 14 points and Sills had 14 points. Nae’Qwan Tomlin had 10 points but he came on late.

Beyond that, there wasn’t much help for the trio.


The NCAA of It

It’s unlikely that Kansas State will drop out of the Top 16 seeds on Selection Sunday after a loss like this. Their NCAA NET ranking is too high, and if you’ve been paying attention the past few weeks a win or loss among teams in the Big 12 doesn’t seem to help or hurt too much.

But a win like this could help TCU just a bit, depending upon whether it can beat Texas on Friday night. TCU is right there on the edge of claiming a Top 16 seed. They were just outside of it going into Thursday’s game.

But there is another Big 12 team on a No. 5 seed line trying to claim a No. 4 seed and that’s Iowa State, which won on Thursday over Baylor.

It could be the team that goes the furthest gets the chance to slip into the Top 16 seeds. TCU would love to have that slightly easier road come Selection Sunday. TCU will need at least another win to enhance its chances.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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