By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
WACO — TCU erased a 17-point first-half deficit Wednesday night, and Mike Miles Jr. set a new career-high in points as No. 17 TCU rallied past No. 19 Baylor 88-87.
The victory pushed TCU’s win streak to 11 games, and the Frogs now sit at 13-1 (2-0 Big 12) on the season.
Miles scored 33 points, eclipsing the 30-point mark for the first time in his career, but his heroics in the final minute didn’t have much to do with scoring.
With the Frogs trailing 87-86 in the final minute of the game, Miles drove the ball to the left elbow where he was met with a double team. He wisely passed the ball to Chuck O’Bannon in the corner, and O’Bannon took two dribbles down the baseline before rising for a mid-range jump shot.
O’Bannon’s shot was true, just his third made shot of the night, giving the Frogs the lead with four seconds left.
“Mike’s been one of my closest partners on the team for about three years now,” O’Bannon said. “We talked about it before going in. Everybody in the gym knew that Mike was supposed to shoot the ball, but Baylor threw two guys at him. He told me, ‘If they throw two at me I’m throwing it to you.’ So, that’s just the chemistry me and Mike have built over the years.”
Baylor made a long inbounds pass to get the ball across half-court, calling another timeout with 2.9 seconds remaining. TCU coach Jamie Dixon had the right defense dialed up, but the Frogs couldn’t quite get a hand on the ball as it traveled almost two-thirds the length of the court.
“We call that play ‘Valpo’ after [Baylor coach Scott Drew’s] dad,” Dixon said.
Ultimately the Bears got a good look, but Xavier Cork blocked Keyonte George’s layup and Baylor’s putback attempt came after the final buzzer.
Miles enjoyed his big game just one game after reaching the 1,000-point mark.
“Just keep shooting the ball,” he said. “I feel like I found it going in early, so just stay aggressive. Everybody was telling me to keep shooting it. I knew I was going to have to shoot more if we wanted to get back in it and win, and that’s what we did.”
Earlier in the day Miles had been named to the midseason watchlist for the John R. Wooden Award, joining 24 other players across the country in receiving the recognition. The Wooden Award is presented annually to the outstanding collegiate basketball player of the year.
Miles entered Wednesday averaging 18.6 points per game to lead the Frogs. He eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in TCU’s win over Texas Tech.
It’s hard not to notice a new maturity from Miles, who might have forced a bad shot in that same situation earlier in his career. His new level of play has captured everyone’s attention early in the season, including Baylor coach Scott Drew.
Drew was on the receiving end of Miles’ best effort, but still had nothing but praise for TCU’s guard after the game.
“I know the NBA likes him. I know we like him,” Drew said. “I think he’s just a better leader now. Four assists, one turnover, he’s playing better defense. He did a great job. That was a huge 3 he hit over Josh [Ojianwuna ]… and then he was unselfish enough on the last play to give it up. A lot of times your best player takes a bad shot because he thinks he has to take the shot. I mean, there’s a reason he was [Big 12] Preseason Player of the Year. He’s really good.”
TCU’s comeback was largely due to their success in transition and in the paint. The Frogs had 23 fastbreak points to just two for Baylor, as Miles, Damion Baugh and a slew of other Frogs all made the Bears pay in transition.
The Frogs found success near the rim, too, scoring 52 points in the paint.
While Miles will capture all the headlines with his career night, three other Frogs joined him in double-figures. Baugh added 15 points and seven assists, surging alongside Miles in the second half to help TCU’s comeback.
Eddie Lampkin Jr. finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, including five consecutive points with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
Emanuel Miller added 13 points and eight rebounds, and was integral to TCU cutting its deficit to just 10 at halftime. Miller said that the Frogs never panicked, even when they trailed by double-digits for the second straight conference game.
“I would be lying if I said we weren’t calm,” Miller said. “We’ve been in this situation so many times, just like in our last game against Texas Tech. … Being down 17, I think every person down the bench, on the court, our minds were calm, smooth and collected, and we executed great.”
Neither team wasted any time lighting up the scoreboard. Baylor made its first four 3-point shots, while Miles helped the Frogs jump out to a 13-12 lead at the under-16 timeout.
That was the last time TCU led in the first half, though, as the Bears continued their hot shooting from long range.
Freshman Keyonte George led the way for Baylor with 16 first-half points, as the Bears stretched their lead to as many as 17. Baylor shot 9-of-13 from 3-point range in the half, as TCU’s defensive rotations were consistently a step late getting pressure on the ball.
Meanwhile, the Frogs’ woes from behind the arc continued. Miles made TCU’s lone 3-point shot in the first half, and led the Frogs with 12 points at the break.
Despite the shaky defense and poor shooting, the Frogs managed to cut their deficit to 10 at the break at 49-39. TCU held the Bears to just one point in the final three minutes of the half and took advantage of Baylor’s foul trouble to close the half on an 8-1 run.
Miles opened up the scoring for TCU in the second half with 13 straight points, bringing the Frogs within 57-50.
Baugh seemed to suffer a right foot injury early in the second half and briefly left the game.
Baugh contested a 3-point shot and landed awkwardly. He stayed on Baylor’s end of the court despite play moving in the other direction. A Miles layup on the other end forced a Baylor timeout, and Baugh hopped off the court without putting any weight on his foot.
He returned several minutes later, though, and did not appear to be hampered.
TCU’s first bench points of the night brought them back to within one, 62-61, when Baugh found JaKobe Coles on a fast break for a layup with 10:02 left in the game.
The Frogs wouldn’t tie it until several minutes later, when two Baugh free throws tied the game at 72. Moments later, a Baugh layup put the Frogs ahead 76-74 for their first lead since the 14:55 mark of the first half.
Baylor surged ahead once again, before Miles’ pass and O’Bannon’s basket put the Frogs ahead for good.
No. 17 TCU plays again Saturday against Iowa State at Schollmaier Arena.
Jamie Plunkett, email@example.com