- Eric Martinez
TCU's season has come to a close after the Zags escapes with a gritty win on Sunday 84-81
TCU has not made the Sweet 16 since 1968. Going into the second round matchup against Gonzaga, head coach Jamie Dixon did not want to focus on history and what hasn’t happened in over 50 years. More importantly he wanted his Horned Frogs to come out with energy and compete. That’s exactly what TCU did. Early in the game, TCU was attacking and making contested and open shots. The energy in the Ball Arena in Denver seemed to support the 6 seed TCU Horned Frogs. Throughout the first half, TCU was able to frustrate senior leader Drew Timme for Gonzaga. His experience was a true force that would not be denied. His NBA type of caliber shot selection kept Gonzaga in the game only trailing by 5 points going into halftime. TCU held a 38 to 35 lead, but foul trouble was a major concern for coach Dixon as depth was a challenge for him. “Obviously it was pretty early in the first half when we had to make some adjustments, play a lot of different lineups, probably even deeper than I thought we would,” head coach Dixon said.
This second round matchup will be told as a tale of two halves. Gonzaga players stepped up at the right time to support the scoring machine that Drew Timme turned into in the second half. Rasir Bolton ended with 17 points, but he started a run that changed the momentum in Denver. Also leading the Bulldogs was Julian Strawther that you may say lit the ignition when he made the first three-point shot after Gonzaga had gone 2 for 14 from that range. Gonzaga senior, Drew Timme, could not be denied. Timme ended with 28 points, 8 rebounds in 31 minutes. Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Timme, “I think he’s going to go down as one of the all-time great college players in the history of the game and he still wasn’t supposed to shoot that 3. But that’s what makes him good. He does things like that every once in a while.” Gonzaga moves on to play UCLA in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament
On the TCU end, a balance scoring attack was noticeable in the first half mostly, but three of the five starters scored double digits (Miller 14 points, Damion Baugh 15 points) and junior leader Mike Miles Jr. that scored 24 points in 39 minutes. Obviously distraught from the loss, Mike Miles Jr. had a moment with Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
“He said that he’s coached a lot of NBA players and that I am one. It’s appreciated,” Miles Jr., said postgame conference. TCU enters an offseason that has more questions than answers. With seniors Damion Baugh, Emanuel Miller, Shahada Wells, Chuck O’Bannon Jr., Mike Miles Jr. and Souleymane Doumbia eligible to return, the question will be what is next for them? The NBA draft can be an option for these players, while some may choose to stay; NCAA college basketball’s transfer portal has become a popular option for players. One thing is certain in Ft. Worth, this class has had success the past two years and if the Horned Frogs regroup while gaining incoming transfers from the portal, return majority of their roster, and add high school top recruits, there is no doubt that TCU can make a deep run that may include the Sweet 16 in 2023-2024.