January 26, 2018
Despite a disappointing start to the conference season, men’s basketball regained life with a historic upset over West Virginia.
by Zach Martino
Fans hoist up Coach Jamie Dixon after TCU's win against West Virginia 82-73. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Sharon Ellman
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Topics: Men's Basketball
by Zach Martino
After a rocky 2-5 start to Big 12 Conference play, the TCU men’s basketball team dropped out of the top-25 national poll. Coach Jamie Dixon’s team had been ranked in the Associated Press poll since November 27th, when it slid into the 23rd spot and subsequently marched all the way to No. 10, TCU’s highest ranking in men’s basketball history.
And then, play began in the Big 12, dubbed the toughest conference in college basketball this season by most analysts and fans.
Conference play is a 16-game gauntlet in which the Horned Frogs could potentially face a whopping eight eventual NCAA tournament teams. TCU lost five of its first seven conference matchups — by a combined 16 points. The stretch included four overtime games, of which the Frogs lost three. A particularly stinging defeat came on the road against Texas in Austin. Guard Jaylen Fisher missed the game-winning layup in double overtime, and the Frogs fell to the Longhorns 99-98.
Disappointment continued late last week when Fisher tore his meniscus in practice, leaving him sidelined for the remainder of the season. This is the second season-ending injury for Fisher in his two years in Fort Worth. Both injuries are devastating, considering Fisher’s esteem as the highest-ranked recruit in program history.
Fisher was on the sidelines in a bulky knee brace Monday night when the Horned Frogs took on No. 7 West Virginia in front of a packed Schollmaier crowd of almost 7,500. TCU lit up the stout Mountaineer press and racked up 82 points on one of college basketball’s stingiest defenses. Meanwhile, TCU held West Virginia to a measly 33 percent shooting and 73 total points.
Alex Robinson leaps for a basket against West Virginia. The guard finished with a game-high 17 points and a season high seven rebounds. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Sharon Ellman
The night proved to be memorable for the Frogs and their fans. After the final buzzer, students poured onto the court to celebrate TCU’s first win over a ranked opponent in the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. They bombarded Coach Jamie Dixon with “Ja-mie, Ja-mie” chants and hoisted him onto their shoulders.
At the post-game press conference, Dixon said, “For our [players], I’m really excited. But for our fans, I think I’m even more excited.” He even went on to describe the fan presence as “overwhelming.”
The Frogs will take their newfound mojo to Nashville on Saturday when they take on Vanderbilt in a SEC-Big 12 showdown. They will then round out their remaining 10 conference games.
TCU is searching for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998, and its first tournament win since Jamie Dixon led the squad in 1987. As of late January, Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com’s senior college basketball analyst, is predicting the Horned Frogs to be a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament in March.
But things will change between now and selection Sunday, as TCU still has to play No. 5 Kansas in Lawrence, two games against No. 14 Texas Tech and a rematch against West Virginia in Morgantown. There was no downplaying Monday’s win, however, as Coach Dixon said, “We’ve won a lot, but this is the one we needed.”
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