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Emanuel Miller was in the middle of the postgame celebration with fans after TCU upset No. 9 Texas Tech (The Associated Press/Tony Gutierrez).

 

 

By Jeff Wilson
Frogs Today senior writer

FORT WORTH — The referees reviewed the last shot of the game, which technically wasn’t a shot.

But everyone knew Bryson Williams’ made 3-pointer came well after the final horn sounded.

The refs probably did, too, but they looked anyway as TCU students rushed onto the court.

It was a short review, and a long celebration for the Horned Frogs.

They upset ninth-ranked Texas Tech 69-66 on Saturday night, with Mike Miles Jr. scoring a game-high 26 points to help TCU rally from as far back as 11 points.

The victory moved TCU, an NCAA Tournament bubble team, to 18-9 and 7-8 in Big 12 play. No one knows for sure how the win will impact the Frogs’ tourney chances, but it sure as heck won’t hurt.

One victory in the final three games could be enough to send the Frogs back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2018.

“Only time can tell,” forward Emanuel Miller said. “I believe this team is a tournament team. I think we have proven enough that we’re one of the best teams in this country. The rankings don’t show that, but we know collectively as a group we can compete with anyone.”

A win didn’t seem likely at halftime, though, as Texas Tech led 41-33 on the strength of 65.2% shooting. The Red Raiders bumped their lead to 46-35 early in the second half, but they never put TCU away.

The Frogs tightened up on defense. While the Red Raiders still shot 50% in the second half, they committed 13 turnovers.

“They shot 50%, but we got deflections, we got loose balls, we got steals, and that was the difference.” coach Jamie Dixon said. “It was better. We were more aggressive on the ball.”

The Frogs kept their deficit between four and eight points much of the half, but used a 7-0 run before the final media timeout to take a 61-60 lead on a 3-pointer by Francisco Farabello.

The lead changed on the next seven possessions, but a dunk by Xavier Cork with 1:11 remaining gave TCU the lead for good at 67-66.

“In my gut, I felt like if we couldn’t separate when we were up six, eight, nine, 10 points — it was going to be a game,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “We went back and forth at that margin for a while but they just started getting closer and closer and got some momentum and confidence. And we could never get it turned around.”

The Frogs forced a turnover on the ensuing Texas Tech possession, and Miles was fouled with 24 seconds remaining. He hit only one free throw, but Cork and Tech transfer Micah Peavy forced a turnover inside.

Peavy was fouled, and hit 1 of 2 foul shots with 11 seconds to go to push the lead to three.

TCU opted to not foul Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders (22-7, 11-5) squeezed off two 3-point tried but missed them both. Peavy rebounded the second and was fouled with 0.8 seconds remaining.

He missed both free throws, and Texas Tech called a timeout on the rebound. The Red Raiders were left with 0.5 seconds, and Williams didn’t get his 3-pointer from 27 feet off in time.

“There was, what, like .5 seconds on the shock clock?” Miller said. “And he caught it and turned around, fade away … if that had counted it was not our day.”

The Frogs can enjoy this one until Tuesday, when they begin to close out their season with three games in five days. First up is No. 5 Kansas on Tuesday at home, then Thursday at Kansas and Saturday at West Virginia.

The conference tournament will follow March 9-12, but an eighth regular-season conference win could very well be enough to grab an at-large bid.

“Our league is just ridiculous,” Dixon said. “You look at our league, something’s going to fall. There’s going to be some teams that are way better than other teams that make it as at-larges. Just because the league’s so tough top to bottom, something’s going to fall out of place.”

Jeff Wilson, jeff@frogstoday.com