MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Kevin Samuel deftly tipped in RJ Nembhard’s errant floater with 1.7 seconds remaining, allowing TCU to escape with an ugly 59-57 victory over Kansas State on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats trailed most of the second half before David Sloan’s 3-pointer with 13 seconds left tied the game. Nembhard took the ball up the floor and drove left on Mike McGuirl, and his shot bounced softly off the rim and right to Samuel, who was positioned perfectly to tip in the rebound and give the Horned Frogs the lead.
Sloan missed a heavily guarded, off-balance 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
Samuel finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds to lead four players in double-figures scoring for the Horned Frogs (11-3), who are off to a 2-0 start in the Big 12 for the first time since joining the conference. Desmond Bane contributed 16 points, Nembhard added 15 and Jaire Grayer finished with 10.
Xavier Sneed led Kansas State (7-7, 0-2) with 19 points, though he was just 5 of 14 from the field. His biggest help came at the foul line, where he was 8 of 10 and the rest of the team was just 3 of 9.
The Horned Frogs allowed Kansas State to hang around as long as they were clanking 3-pointers
That started to change late in the first half.
Nembhard’s deep shot from the wing broke a 23-all tie, then the Wildcats came up empty on their next two possessions, and Bane and Edric Dennis Jr. added back-to-back 3s that helped TCU take its largest lead of the game.
Mawien scored just before halftime for Kansas State, but he left enough time for the Horned Frogs to race up the floor. The ball got loose but wound up in the hands of Grayer, and his buzzer-beating 3 gave his team a 35-25 lead at the break.
The Horned Frogs started 1 of 10 from beyond the arc. They proceeded to hit eight of their next 12.
Another lull hit TCU midway through the second half, but the Wildcats struggled to take advantage of it. They trailed 40-29 when the Horned Frogs went more than six minutes without a field goal, but when Bane ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 10:45 to go, the visitors from Fort Worth still maintained a 44-40 advantage.
Kansas State kept up the defensive pressure, though, and Sneed took it upon himself to carry the Wildcats on the other end. He buried a 3-pointer from the wing to pull within 51-49 with 3:50 left, then was fouled driving to the basket moments later and made the second of two free throws to make it 53-50 after the final media timeout.
TCU had lapses in poise that could be attributed in part to playing its first true road game – even though there may have been more empty seats than full ones. The Horned Frogs’ only other games away from the Dallas metro this season came against Clemson and Wyoming in late November at the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas.
Kansas State has struggled to score all season, so it made was somewhat poetic that the Wildcats would lose another game on a missed shot at the buzzer. Six of their seven losses have been by single digits.
TCU returns home to face Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Kansas State heads to Texas on Saturday night.
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