If you aren’t Texas senator Ted Cruz, who is self-quarantined from Covid-19 fears with only Fox News as his outlet to the world, you’re aware of TCU men’s basketball ups and downs so far this season. The highs of besting the now-stumbling Bears were short-lived after a contentious but ultimately futile effort at top-ranked Kansas on Wednesday. It’s fine. No one really expected Jamie Dixon’s hoopers to win against the Jayhawks, especially on the road. Their 66-75 loss felt almost cathartic compared to their previous fall to the basketball blue bloods in Fort Worth. The final chance for our men to capture regular-season victory and essentially win one for the gipper –– graduating senior guard Desmond Bane –– was a last hurrah hosting Oklahoma on Saturday. All seemed to be falling the purple’s way as TCU grasped an 18-point lead at the break and sunk more than half of their long ball attempts. I held cautious optimism as the second half unfolded and the Frogs’ offensive efficiency continued to build to a 19-point lead at its height. The only proverbial fly in the ointment was Okie point guard Austin Reaves, who drove to the bucket with ease and swished off-balance shots with the comfort of a frontiersman slaughtering native dwellers with impunity. As our hoppers’ lead steadily diminished, I was reminded starkly that though the game was trending as well as fanatics could hope, Dixon had never beaten OU while coaching at TCU. Crimson swagger peaked in the final minutes as Sooner forward Brady Manek, who dominated the Frogs with 31 points back in January but had done very little to that point, stepped in to sink two late three balls. Those six points by Manek, his only made shots of the game, and Reaves’ unbelievable collection of 41 –– the most by any Big 12 player this season –– proved the difference in a tight 76-78 loss at home. Bane, who should easily be considered one of the best ever to don a purple jersey, went home after senior night still nursing the gut-punch loss. Four of TCU’s five starters scored double digits, and Bane led the way with a 24-point performance. Sadly, Edric Dennis and his four bench brethren contributed only 10 total points. Bane’s season, and we can assume career, led to his selection to the first all Big-12 team. The senior is the first Frog to receive the honor, and he’ll leave as TCU’s three-point record holder.
Bane is beloved by Fort Worth fanatics because he’s the antithesis of everything we perceive as wrong with college basketball. The Indiana native spent all four of his college years playing his home tips at Schollmaier Arena. He dabbled with the NBA last season but decided to return and finish his college career with a team riddled with freshmen and an almost empty bench. Bane will be fondly remembered as a classy team player shooting for a squad without the supporting cast necessary to discover impactful success. Saturday’s loss leaves our Frogs in eighth place in the conference behind Oklahoma State. Dixon managed to split games with every conference opponent except Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The combined score of the home losses to UT and OU is three total points. That said, the road was and has been a cold and lonely place for purple hoops for what seems like forever. Dixon’s dribblers won only a single road game this entire season while visiting Kansas State. Youth can’t be overlooked as an obstacle when invading hostile arenas, but a lone road victory is horrid and has been a consistent problem for Dixon during his tenure. Coach D has enjoyed only seven victories in enemy territory since returning to his alma mater, though his neutral-site record reads much better. Our Frogs’ next stop is Kansas City for the opening round of the conference tourney on Wednesday night with last-place Kansas State. There is a chance for advancement as KSU is the only team TCU swept this season and beat on the road. The winner of the royal purple and ugly purple clash will have to contend and almost assuredly be whipped by a backsliding Baylor squad who’ll be eager to campaign for a one-seed in the Big Dance before Selection Sunday after losing at West Virginia last weekend. It’s nearing time for NIT (Not In the Tournament) selection, which Fort Worth fanatics have come to expect this time of year.