Big 12 ugly: How No. 1 Houston embarrassed TCU in 60-45 blowout tournament defeat

The Horned Frogs may have been expecting a fight against No. 1 Houston, but it’s clear TCU wasn’t prepared for the task as the Cougars rolled to a 60-45 win in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday.

Clearly motivated by the earlier last second 68-67 defeat to TCU in January, Houston came out playing inspired defense. The Cougars refused to let the Horned Frogs get any easy look as dunks and layups were swatted away constantly by Houston’s frontline.

After falling behind 16-0 to start the game, TCU never got closer than nine. Trailing by 15 at halftime, the Horned Frogs went almost five minutes without a bucket as the Cougars built a 37-15 lead before Jameer Nelson finally snapped the drought with a three-point play that made it 37-18 with 15:11 remaining.

From that point the game, it became about pride for the Horned Frogs as they desperately tried to keep the deficit under 20 points and avoid making the wrong type of history in the Big 12.

For most of the game TCU flirted with having the lowest field goal percentage in a game since the Horned Frogs only shot 20.4 percent against Texas Tech on Jan. 18, 2014. The Horned Frogs finished the game shooting 23.3 percent, the third-lowest in a game since 1996. Micah Peavy was the only TCU player to score in double figures as he paced the team with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a historical disappointing defeat and one the Horned Frogs will have to sit with as they await to see who their NCAA Tournament opponent is.

Injury scare

As bad as the performance was on Thursday it was almost worse as Emanuel Miller, TCU’s best player, had an injury scare near the end of the first half. The All-Big 12 forward got tangled up in a scrum and hurt his left ankle. He needed to be helped back to the looker room by two people. It was a lengthy halftime as fans had to wonder how this could potentially impact TCU’s NCAA Tournament seeding and chances of contending.

Thankfully, it was just a scare as Miller returned and started the second half. Miller was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just one field goal and three points.

A disaster half

There have been some ugly stretches for TCU this season, but none were uglier than the first 10 minutes against the top-ranked Cougars. What’s the opposite of an offensive masterclass? A disaster class? That seems fitting as the Horned Frogs started the game missing their first 16 field goal attempts plus a few turnovers mixed in. Going back to the second half against Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs went 16 straight minutes without a field goal.

Houston took advantage of the offensive struggles with a 16-0 run with a balanced approach led by big man J’Wan Roberts. Things got so bad for TCU that when Micah Peavy finally broke the scoring drought with a putback layup with 10:20 remaining in the half, the T-Mobile Center crowd full of opposing Big 12 fans sarcastically cheered. Surprisingly TCU’s defense was able to allow the Horned Frogs to hang around and TCU actually cut the deficit to single digits when Trevian Tennyson knocked down a free throw to make it 20-11 with 4:09 remaining.

Just as the possibility for a comeback began to open, Houston immediately shut it. Three of the Cougars’ final four shots of the half from 3-pointers, including two straight from All-Big 12 guard L.J. Cryer. A nine-point deficit turned into a 31-15 edge for Houston. The 15 points are tied for the seventh-fewest TCU has scored in a first half in program history. TCU shot 19 percent and had more turnovers (11) than field goals (7).