By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
Ochai Agbaji scored 22 point for No. 6 Kansas and there was no coming back from a large deficit Friday night for TCU as the Jayhawks ran away with a 75-62 victory in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.
Chuck O’Bannon led the Horned Frogs with 15 points and seven rebounds. It was a welcomed sight from the senior, who has struggled as of late. O’Bannon was 6-of-8 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from deep, after going just 6-of-26 in TCU’s past four games.
Mike Miles Jr. added 14 points for the Frogs in 33 minutes after suffering an ankle injury Thursday in TCU’s win over Texas.
Damion Baugh filled up the stat sheet Friday with seven points, seven rebounds, nine assists … and seven turnovers.
As it has so many times this season, the turnover bug bit the Frogs. TCU committed 18 turnovers, off of which Kansas scored 23 points.
TCU looked good in the first few minutes against Kansas, taking a 9-7 lead on a Francisco Farabello wing 3 at the 16:12 mark of the first half.
Kansas responded with an 11-0 run, giving the Jayhawks an 18-9 lead and forcing Jamie Dixon to call a timeout. The run, which took place over a span of four minutes, was fueled by four TCU turnovers.
Two 3-pointers from Chuck O’Bannon and Mike Miles helped cut into Kansas’ lead midway through the half, but the Frogs couldn’t stop the Jayhawks.
Agbaji scored 13 first-half points as the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year helped the Jayhawks build their lead to as many as 19, 44-25.
TCU ended the half on a mini 5-0 run. Farabello hit a 3 from the corner to bring the score to 44-30 at the break.
TCU opened the second half with five straight made baskets, cutting into Kansas’ lead. For a few moments, it looked like another comeback was in order. TCU rallied from 20 down Thursday to be the Longhorns in the quarterfinals.
A 3 from O’Bannon brought TCU to within 52-44, but that’s as close as the Frogs would get.
As quickly as the Frogs got back into things, they fell back out of things. A stretch of almost five minutes without a made field goal put TCU back down by 18, 63-45.
Miles ended the stretch with a step-back jumper, but as they did all night, the Jayhawks had an answer for every TCU challenge.
Keeping their foot on the gas, the Jayhawks increased their lead to 75-53 in the waning minutes. The Frogs ended the game on a 9-0 run, powered by five points from O’Bannon,
As odd as it may sound based on the final score, TCU played significantly better defense in the second half. The Frogs held Kansas to under 40% shooting from the floor and just 2-of-11 from 3-point range.
Turnovers, combined with the hole they dug in the first half, proved to be too much for the Frogs in the end.
And so, TCU’s time in Kansas City, Mo., is over, but their season is not.
“Right when we get on this bus, it’s another season.” sophomore guard Micah Peavy said. “Right when we get on the bus we’ll be thinking about Selection Sunday and be ready to play.”
TCU heads back to Fort Worth to patiently await Selection Sunday, when the Frogs should hear their name called as one of the 68 participants in the NCAA Tournament.
Joe Lunardi, one of the leading experts on “Bracketology” for ESPN, projects TCU as a No. 8-seed, heading to Portland to face San Diego State in the first round.
The entire 68-team field will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m.