March Madness ends for TCU with 84-81 loss to Gonzaga

Coach Jamie Dixon and TCU are out but March Madness rolls on. (AP Photo/John Leyba)

TCU led for much of the game but Gonzaga refused to be denied an eighth-straight trip to the Sweet 16 and ousted the Horned Frogs from the NCAA tournament Sunday night, 84-81.

Mike Miles Jr. finished with 24 points and four assists in his second straight electric game for sixth-seeded TCU, which was trying to win two games in the same tournament for the first time in program history. In the end, Miles and the Frogs couldn’t hold off the determined third-seeded Zags and their senior superstar Drew Timme, who scored 28 points including a crucial 3-pointer that helped Gonzaga take a seven-point lead with just under nine minutes to play.

Timme’s 3-pointer was his first since December and only his third of the season.

“It was huge – the clock, the two-point lead,” Timme said of the margin before he made his shot. “I just launched one up there. All you can do is smile and laugh.”

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After TCU pulled back within three late, Timme made a twisting shot in the lane with a defender draped all over him to trigger a 4-0 mini-run that put the game out of reach.

Next stop for 6-foot-10 Timme and his social media-friendly mustache: Las Vegas for the West Region semifinals and a meeting with UCLA on Thursday. It will be a rematch of the teams’ Final Four game two years ago, when Jalen Suggs banked one in from the half-court logo at the buzzer for the win.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few pulled Miles aside briefly during the postgame handshake.

“He said that he’s coached a lot NBA players and that I am one,” Miles said. “It’s appreciated.”

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Damion Baugh finished with 15 points for TCU, including a not-so-meaningless 3 he hit at the buzzer to help the Horned Frogs cover the 4.5-point spread listed on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Small consolation for TCU, though for 30 minutes-plus, the Frogs (22-13) looked very much like one of the 16 best teams in the country. They came at the Bulldogs in waves, trying to stop Timme with every big man on the roster.

But while the Gonzaga big man had to work for every one of his 12 baskets and his eight rebounds, TCU’s bigs were all in foul trouble as the West Region game in Denver wound down. One of the two Horned Frogs who fouled out was JaKobe Coles, who made the last-second runner that gave TCU its first-round win over Arizona State.

“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,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.

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TCU had led by as many as 10 in the first half.

With TCU’s big men in foul trouble, one difference might have been the absence of Eddie Lampkin. Lampkin, a key cog in the TCU front court much of the year, entered the transfer portal just before the Big 12 tournament.