MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – First-year TCU coach Trent Johnson realizes this is not an ideal situation.
That’s why, even though the Horned Frogs lost 79-68 to No. 9 Kansas State on Tuesday night, Johnson said the team can’t do much better.
Kyan Anderson had 29 points for the Horned Frogs.
“Make no mistake about it, that’s as good as we can play on the road, scoring 68 points,” Johnson said. “Kyan was as good as he’s been all year long.
“Just unfortunate that we weren’t able to get a couple plays made defensively and offensively to give us a chance to win this thing,” he added.
Angel Rodriguez had 21 points and 10 assists and Shane Southwell and Martavious Irving both added 15 points in the Senior Night victory which allowed the Wildcats (25-5, 14-3 Big 12) to stay tied with No. 4 Kansas for first place in the conference with one regular season game to play.
Devonta Abron had 10 points for the Horned Frogs (10-20, 1-16).
The Wildcats kept their distance for most of the game, but TCU made it interesting early in the second half by slashing into a 42-27 halftime deficit with a 12-2 run.
Johnson credited improved scoring and ball movement along with a temporary offensive lapse by Kansas State for the run.
“It’s probably a combination of a couple things,” he said. “They might have missed a couple shots, but then we were real inside-out and didn’t get overextended and gamble.”
Charles Hill Jr., who did not score in the first half, made two free throws to start the spurt for the Horned Frogs. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber called a timeout after TCU scored eight straight points. But after Rodriguez scored, the Horned Frogs responded with two free throws and another basket, bringing them within 44-39.
A couple of minutes later, a 3 by Rodriguez widened the gap to nine points, but Anderson immediately responded with a 3.
Long-range baskets by Irving and Rodriguez put Kansas State in front 58-48. Anderson followed a slashing layup with a three-point play and cut the deficit to five.
“We felt like the zone was working a little bit, and then . they hit big shots,” Anderson said. “We didn’t necessarily want to get out of (the zone) because they were capitalizing on man-to-man too.”
Two straight baskets by Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson and a fastbreak layup by McGruder restored a double-digit lead for the Wildcats, and TCU called a timeout while trailing 64-53 with 7:48 to play.
Kansas State’s ball movement — including 17 baskets on 17 assists in the first half — made life difficult for the Horned Frogs, and Johnson credited it before anything else.
“I don’t know if you all realize how nice of a basketball team you have,” Johnson said. “They’re as efficient and play for one another as much as any team I’ve ever been around in a long, long time.”
Kansas State was playing without starter Will Spradling, who was suffering from a bruised sternum. In his absence, four Wildcats played 33 minutes or more, which is unusual for a team that has considerable depth.
“You wish you could have maintained that 15, 17-point lead, now we could have felt a little more comfortable,” Weber said. “We had to get a win, so you had to fight through it.”
Senior Night aside, it was a junior, Southwell, who provided the most consistent offense for Kansas State in the first half. He scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including two 3s that helped Kansas State take a 15-4 lead.
TCU aided the Wildcats’ cause by giving the ball away eight times in the first half, and Kansas State took advantage getting 14 points off turnovers.
Anderson scored 12 of the first 14 points for the Horned Frogs, but he did not get much help. Garlon Green, who scored five points, was the only other TCU player to get more than one field goal in the opening half.
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