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TCU 360

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TCU basketball struggles defensively in home loss to Kansas State

TCU guard Francisco Farabello dribbles up the floor in TCU’s home loss to Kansas State on Feb. 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy of gofrogs.com)

“That’s not an excuse.”

Despite TCU missing their leading scorer Mike Miles with a wrist injury, guard Francisco Farabello felt like the Frogs still should have been able to top Kansas State at home on Saturday evening.

“I think our defense was the main problem, not our offense,” Farabello said.

Defense certainly was an issue for the Frogs in the contest, as Kansas State scored 75 points on 46 percent shooting as a team to hand TCU a 75-63 loss in front of their home fans.

The Wildcats entered the game with the Big 12’s worst scoring offense (67.14 points per game).

With 1:21 remaining, the Frogs pulled within seven to put the pressure on the Wildcats. TCU then forced a turnover and had a two free throws with a chance to cut their deficit to five.

Both were missed, though, and Kansas State made seven of their 10 free throw attempts in the last 1:06 to shut the clamps on TCU.

The biggest thorn in the Frogs’ side was Kansas State guard Nijel Pack, who led the game with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including three-made three-pointers.

“Tremendous player,” Farabello said of Pack. “Best shooter in the Big 12. We should have done a better job defending him.”

Fifth-year senior Mike McGuirl also hit three shots from behind-the-arc and had 13 points, joining Pack as two of Kansas State’s four players in double digits.

Though Kansas State only made 33 percent of their three-point attempts (8-for-24), TCU was even worse, finishing 21 percent (6-for-28) from deep.

The Frogs missed their last 11 three-point attempts of the game.

“We’ve got to take it game-by-game,” forward Emanuel Miller said. “A lot of the guys are in the gym putting up extra shots. We’re confident in our shooters on the team, and I think our work will only dictate what we put out on the court.”

The Frogs also made just 13 of their 22 attempts from the charity stripe. On the season, TCU ranks at the bottom of the conference in free throw shooting and three point field goal percentage.

Farabello, Miller, and guard Damion Baugh all finished in double figures for the Frogs, combining for 44 points, but the rest of the team shot of a combined 7-for-20 and had just 19.

Miles was ruled out just about an hour before tip-off due to a re-injured right wrist and a newly-injured left wrist from the Frogs’ practice the day before.

“We didn’t know about Mike [Miles] being out until right before the game, so I don’t know that we had a lot of time to prepare for that,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’ve got to play better. If he’s out, we’ve got to defend, and we didn’t defend.”

The Big 12’s leading team in the department of offensive rebounds, TCU got two on their first possession of the game, leading to a layup by Miller.

Two missed shots and a pair of turnovers by the Frogs then allowed Kansas State to answer with an 8-0 run, but Baugh began to heat up to keep TCU competitive.

The Memphis-transfer started to look like Portland Trailblazers star Damion Lillard, scoring 11 of TCU’s next 13 points to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 18-15 midway through the first half.

Baugh would eventually cool off, though, and Kansas State pushed their advantage to 10 twice over the course of the first half, even leading by as much as 11 with 3:50 to go.

A pair of threes by Farabello helped stop the bleeding for TCU, and they would trail by just seven at the halftime break.

The Frogs had secured nine offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes alone.

Right out of the gate in the second half, TCU cruised to a 9-4 run that pulled them within two, forced an early Kansas State timeout, and had Schollmaier Arena rocking.

A 15-2 run by the Wildcats then blew the game back open. During that span, Kansas State hit three shots from behind-the-arc, each of which came from a different player.

For the next few minutes, any attempts by the Frogs to gain momentum were immediately answered.

Forward Chuck O’Bannon hit a three, but TCU then gave up a Kansas State triple on the other end. Forward Eddie Lampkin scored four-straight, but the Frogs then gave up a layup plus a foul to the Wildcats.

“As a team, we focus on defense. We’re one of the best defensive teams in this conference,” Miller said. “Scoring offensively is going to come, but defense is where it’s most important. We have to get stops. Period. No matter what we do, no matter how the game’s going, we have to play defense, and we just didn’t execute it as well as we usually do.”

Two different times in the second half, TCU saw made three-pointers waived off by offensive foul calls away from the shot.

With 6:55 left in the game, two free throws by Kansas State guard Nijel Pack gave TCU their biggest deficit of the day at 16 (62-46).

An 11-3 run over the next four minutes, highlighted by five points from Farabello, gave the Frogs some life and pulled them within 8 with just over three minutes to play.

TCU would then pull within seven before missing their last seven shots and seeing any chance at a comeback slip away.

A lone bright spot in the game for the Frogs was that they outrebounded the Wildcats 36-33. They’ve won the battle of the boards in 17 of 20 games played this season.

TCU is back at home on Tuesday to face Oklahoma State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

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