No. 24 TCU men’s basketball outlasts Texas Tech behind clutch free throws



TCU’s Xavier Cork (12) and JaKobe Coles (21) celebrate a win over Texas Tech after an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Chase Seabolt)

By Sederick Oliver, Executive Editor, Image Magazine

No. 24 TCU men’s basketball (19-10, 8-8) narrowly escaped Texas Tech with an 83-82 victory yesterday morning inside United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

For Frog fans, the win came in the most spine-tingling, triumphant way possible.

For Raiders supporters, the loss stung and was the ultimate gut punch due to the hectic last few seconds.

TCU came into the game with only eight players as the team was without sophomore big man Eddie Lampkin Jr., junior guard Rondel Walker and first-year guard PJ Haggerty.

However, in typical Horned Frog fashion, they showed strength in numbers and fought in spite of their limited player rotations.

Known for its stellar transition play, TCU only managed to score nine fast break points.

Texas Tech defended the open court well, looking to neutralize one of TCU’s strengths and defining characteristics.

Despite their inability to get out in transition or make threes (3-of-15 in the first half), TCU held a 44-35 lead going into halftime.

This was created off of their defensive efforts, work on the glass and insistence on scoring inside the paint.

As with most games this season, the Frogs did most of their damage close to the basket, tallying 52 paint points for the game.

TCU has always been a team that thrives off of finding the open man due to the various backdoor cuts and movement off the ball.

Offensive rebounding was key as the Frogs were able to box-out their matchups, find a way to the ball and create another scoring opportunity against an unset defense.

This resulted in 20-second-chance points such as the one below…

TCU’s defense was the real star of the first half, as it hounded Texas Tech into taking difficult perimeter shots and off-balanced 3-pointers. The Raiders shot just 41% from the floor in the first half and went 3-of-13 from 3-point land.

The second half, on the other hand, was a different story.

After coming out of the break, Texas Tech began making shot after shot to chip into TCU’s lead.

The Raiders were able to completely flip the script and shoot 61% from the floor in the second half.

Junior guard Mike Mike Jr. was instrumental in TCU remaining ahead with his level of shot-making ability.

The Big-12 Preseason Player of the Year led both teams in scoring with 24 points on 50% shooting from the field, 8-of-16, and from three, 2-of-4.

The aforementioned shot-making included spectacular moves such as this…

In addition to the shortened lineup depth, TCU also battled foul trouble all game long, totaling 18 compared to just 10 for the Raiders.

Junior forward Xavier Cork, who started at center and was TCU’s only big man, was limited to just 13 minutes of action due to picking up a fourth foul with 12:29 to play in the game.

Cork was still effective as he finished with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.

Free throws a day, keeps a loss away

Hearts were racing, as neither team wanted to give an inch.

Although the Frogs led for most of the second half, they now trailed by one point with 12.1 seconds left to play.

Miles Jr. was able to race up the court and avoid being fouled, so TCU could call a timeout to set up its last play call.

Despite once going 6-of-18 against No. 23 Iowa State and shooting right at 70% for the season, free throws were the difference maker in yesterday’s victory, 11-of-13 for 85%.

After the timeout, senior forward Emanuel Miller found sophomore forward JaKobe Coles running towards the basket and Coles was able to draw a whistle.

Coles proved to have “ice in his veins” as he proceeded to sink both free throws, forcing Texas Tech to settle for a last-second desperation three that was off the mark.

This was TCU’s first victory in Lubbock, Texas in eight seasons.

After losing their last game to No. 3 Kansas in similar fashion, this victory felt a little special for TCU players.

“Great pass by Emanuel, we’ve talked about diving and finding cutters all game long and there it was at the end of the game,” said head coach Jamie Dixon.

Miller joined Miles Jr. in double-figures with with 14 points and 12 rebounds, his second double-double of the season, and Coles led the bench scorers with 15.

TCU will be back in action on Wednesday when it hosts No. 8 Texas in Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena.

Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.