By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today senior writer
KANSAS CITY – The Frogs will stay in Kansas City for at least one more day.
Mike Miles and Chuck O’Bannon powered TCU’s offense as the Frogs ran away from 3-seed Kansas State, 80-67.
Miles and O’Bannon both scored 22 points in the win. For O’Bannon, it was the second-highest scoring output of his career.
“All season I’ve struggled to knock down shots,” O’Bannon said. “But I stayed confident in me, coach stayed confident in me and my teammates stayed confident in me, and I just knew if I stayed consistent, it would work out for me in the long run.”
O’Bannon also finished tied for the team lead in rebounds, pulling down seven. He also added a blocked shot. Rebounding and defense have been a point of emphasis for O’Bannon this season. He understood how his role had to change, if the shots weren’t falling as they usually do.
“I wanted to do other things to stay on the court to help the team,” O’Bannon said. “And my rebounding, blocking shots, getting steals, being in lanes, improving defense, that was what I wanted to work on other than scoring the basketball.”
As a team, TCU made 11 3-point shots, a season high for a squad that has struggled from deep all year. Coach Jamie Dixon was pleased with TCU’s shot selection on the night, and suggested that had something to do with the success from 3-point range.
“They were good shots,” Dixon said. “We really passed the ball well, and I talked about that. The passing, the unselfishness, it was evident throughout. We didn’t take any bad shots really all game long. I’ll have to struggle to come up with one or two.”
Although the Frogs shot 50% from 3-point range, Kansas State shot better from the floor on the night. The Wildcats made 43% of their shots to just 40% for the Frogs, but TCU made up the difference with offensive rebounds and turnovers.
TCU pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, which led to 25 second chance points. More than anything, TCU’s effort on the offensive glass powered them while shots weren’t falling early.
“Our feeling is, if we take good shots, that’s where you get offensive rebounds,” Dixon said. “And yes, you’re not going to make every shot, and we know we’re not the best three-point shooting team in the country, so those are the ones we’ve got to get and we have to take them. I want Mike to take open threes. I want all our guys to take open threes because we’re going to get that rebound. That’s got to be our mentality.”
TCU also forced Kansas State into 20 turnovers, matching the amount the Wildcats had in the first contest between these two teams, which TCU also won. Micah Peavy and Emanuel Miller both finished with three steals.
The Frogs added 20 points off of those 20 turnovers.
The first half was largely back and forth, although Kansas State jumped out to a quick lead.
Two baskets from Nae’Qwuon Tomlin and a 3-pointer from Desi Sills got the mostly pro-Wildcats fans into the game and loud, as Kansas State pulled out to an early 11-2 lead.
Meanwhile, TCU was cold from the floor, making just two of their first nine shots on the night.
Chuck O’Bannon scored the first five points for the Frogs, stabilizing the offense as the Frogs got their legs under them. His 3-point shot at the 15:30 mark of the half sparked an 11-2 run for the Frogs, who tied the game up on a second-chance basket from Emanuel Miller.
A minute later Micah Peavy blocked a 3-point shot from Cam Carter that brought the TCU crowd to their feet, and brought the game to the under-12 timeout at with 11:48 remaining in the half.
A quick 5-0 run by Kansas State out of the break put the Frogs down 18-13, but TCU, led by Miles, responded.
Back-to-back 3-pointers for Miles put TCU ahead 19-18, and after Kansas State briefly reclaimed the lead, the Frogs went ahead for good. A made 3-pointer from Peavy put the Frogs ahead 28-25, and they didn’t trail again.
The Frogs used Peavy’s 3-pointer to start a 12-4 run to close the half, as the Frogs’ defense continued to clamp down on Kansas State.
TCU carried a 37-29 lead into the break.
Kansas State brought the game to within two, 42-40, in the early minutes of the second half as they tried to regain the early momentum they had in the first half.
TCU wouldn’t allow them to take the lead, though, and used another 12-4 run to take a 54-44 lead, from which they never really looked back.
There was a moment for concern midway through the second half, when Miles appeared to collide with Sills as he went to the ground. Miles was slow to get up, and he limped back down court as he seemed to aggravate his right knee.
Miles missed four games due to a hyperextended right knee earlier this season, but following Thursday’s win he suggested it wasn’t a concern.
“I’m good,” Miles said. “It kind of stung when it happened, but it’s good right now. I’ll get treatment tonight and be ready for tomorrow.”
TCU now advances to the Big 12 semifinals, where they’ll face Texas on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. The Frogs split the series with the Longhorns this season, giving up an 18-point lead in Austin before taking the game in Fort Worth 75-73.
Texas could be without forward Timmy Allen, who leads the team in rebounding this season and is third on the team in scoring. He wasn’t needed Thursday, however, as Texas handled Oklahoma State easily without him.
“This league, you know you’re going to play somebody ranked,” Dixon said. “And then you play everybody twice, so there’s just so much familiarity and teams are so old now, so you get even more familiarity with the guys.Yeah, we know what they do, and they know what we do, and it will be a great game.”
Jamie Plunkett, email@example.com