No. 22 TCU men’s basketball defeats No. 12 Kansas State in Big 12 quarterfinal

TCU forward Chuck O’Bannon Jr. attempts a jump shot vs Kansas State on March 9, 2023. (Photo courtesy of

By Sederick Oliver, Executive Editor, Image Magazine

After dropping its season-finale on the road against last-place Oklahoma, head coach Jamie Dixon said this about his TCU squad: “We’ve beaten the top four teams so that gives us some confidence going forward – we’ve had some good wins in that tournament, we haven’t won it but we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

Despite a poor showing against a struggling Sooners team, Dixon still showed confidence in his team and last night showed exactly why.

No. 22 and sixth-seeded TCU men’s basketball (21-11, 9-9) defeated No. 12 and third-seeded Kansas State, 80-67, Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at T-Mobile Center.

The Frogs walked into a packed T-Mobile Center inside of Kansas City, Missouri where the Wildcats were the overwhelming fan-favorite.

TCU has shown poise and handled opposing crowds well on the road all season long, but the team looked out of sorts in the first four minutes of action.

Pre-media timeout

Aside from perimeter shooting and health, slow starts have seemed to be the Frogs’ most consistent Achilles’ heel.

Twenty seconds into the game, junior guard Mike Miles Jr. uncharacteristically missed two free throws, much to the delight of the crowd.

This seemed to permeate into the rest of the team, opening up the quarterfinals with a 1-of-8 shooting start.

TCU subsequently fell behind 11-2 with 15:48 to go, and a media timeout was taken.

Coach Dixon spoke afterwards about how he wasn’t worried about the early hole the Frogs found themselves in due to their shot quality.

He believed the team was getting efficient looks at the basket and would eventually make those same shots down the line.

Down the line turned out to be immediately after the timeout.

Post-media timeout

Redshirt senior Chuck O’Bannon Jr. swished a 3-pointer soon as play resumed, and TCU never looked back.

The three ball would be a constant theme for O’Bannon Jr. and the Frogs as a unit, making a season-best 11 3-pointers on 44%.

O’Bannon Jr. and Miles Jr. each went 4-of-7 from 3-point land in route to sharing game-high scoring honors with 22 points each.

After starting the game shooting 12.5% within the first four minutes, TCU began to maximize every single possession and generated clean looks on offense.

The ball moved with zeal and never stuck in anyone’s hands, as the team’s confidence grew more and more once the offense settled down.

Although the Frogs overall field goal shooting numbers doesn’t suggest a change (37%), everyone inside T-Mobile Center felt the energy shift.

Off the dribble pull-up 3-pointers, step-backs from beyond the arc, acrobatic finishes, the shot-making ability of the Frogs was on full display.

The Frogs were able to turn a 11-2 deficit into a 37-32 halftime lead.

With five 3-pointers in the first half, TCU was able to build on this and make six more in the second.

Not only was the offense clicking and shots were falling, but TCU raised its defensive intensity forcing the Wildcats into 20 turnovers.

The Frogs were also able to keep KSU from getting out into transition, limiting their offense to just the half court, preventing any easy baskets or momentum boosts.

The lead stretched to double-digits, and eventually 16 as the Wildcats fought from behind the entirety of the second half.

Every time, a Wildcat made a tough shot to inch closer, a Horned Frog would drain an even tougher shot in response, prompting restlessness and silence from the fans.

Anytime the Frogs needed a bucket, O’Bannon Jr. answered the call, scoring 15 of his season-high 22 points in the second half.

“I’m really happy for Chuck [O’Bannon Jr.], he’s as we say ‘Mr. Postseason’ – it’s his time,” said Dixon.

Despite struggling to find his groove all season long, O’Bannon Jr.’s persistence and hard work shined in the brightest of moment.

“All season I’ve been struggling to knock down shots, but I stayed confident in myself, coaches stayed confident in me, teammates stayed confident in me,” said O’Bannon Jr. “I knew that if I stayed consistent, it would work out for me in the long run.”

Miles Jr., who was recently named to the Second Team All-Big 12 Conference by the Associated Press, alongside backcourt mate senior guard Damion Baugh, also moved up to No. 16 on TCU’s all-time scoring list with 1,232 career points.

With the win, TCU advances to the Big 12 semifinals for the second-straight season and the third time overall.

TCU now looks to quickly shift gears as it faces the No. 7 and second-seeded Texas (24-8) tonight inside T-Mobile Center.

Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.