In a fitting end to the first-round NCAA Tournament bonanza Friday night in downtown Denver, TCU’s JaKobe Coles took down No. 11 seed Arizona State with a last-second shot that sent Ball Arena into bedlam.
In a game that featured 12 lead changes, six ties and each team leading by as many as 11 points, Mike Miles got the ball to Coles when it mattered most. And the 6-foot-7 sophomore delivered, dribbling into the lane and sinking a floater with 1.5 seconds remaining as the sixth-seeded Horned Frogs eked out a 72-70 win over the Sun Devils.
“It was a big moment for sure,” Coles said. “It was definitely a good pass by Mike and I figured they were going to try and double him and I just take the shots I always take — I’m confident in them.”
Miles was arguably the player of Day 1 with a 26-point, four-rebound performance. He kept TCU in the game with aggressive drives that resulted in a 12-of-14 night from the free-throw line, while also finishing 5 of 10 from the floor.
Despite trailing for much of the second half, the Horned Frogs (22-12) remained calm, as in, four turnovers on the night-levels of calm, and Miles exuded it.
“Our message was to just stay together,” Miles said. “We had our run to begin the game and they started making tough shots like they did in the first game. They cut the lead, they got the lead and we couldn’t get back to them. In the second half we decided to make them drive a little bit and we knew they weren’t going to make the same tough shots. We stuck together defensively and we got buckets. I trusted my teammates and it was a good win.”
The Sun Devils (23-13) were seeking to become the third First Four team to advance to the second round as Pittsburgh and Farleigh Dickinson also earned Round 1 victories. ASU nearly forced overtime, as moments before Coles’ shot, DJ Horne sank a 3-pointer that tied the game at 70 apiece with 12 seconds remaining, which set up the finish.
After coming back from an 13-2 hole early in the game, the Sun Devils’ athleticism was on full display in the second half. Devan Cambridge completed a reverse jam that had the ASU faithful inside Ball Arena in a frenzy.
Still, TCU got after it on the offensive glass, and the Horned Frogs were able to get in the bonus with mover nine minutes left in the second half. From there, it turned into a slug fest. ASU’s shooting percentage dropped from 60% in the first half and 60% from beyond-the-arc to just 36%.
That defensive effort, Horned Frogs head coach Jamie Dixon said, was pure heart, particularly from Miles and point guard Damion Baugh (11 points)
“There was a point there in the second half where we were playing so hard. Defensively, we were getting stops … We’ve got good leadership but they’re extremely competitive. I just kinda felt like Mike and Damion were not gonna let us lose. That’s a good tandem there.”
TCU will be tested again at altitude against Drew Timmie and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
“They willed themselves to win, and that means a lot to me. Altitude did affect me, too,” Dixon quipped. “They play with so much emotion. Yes, we didn’t play great, but we played tough. We figured it out and it shows a lot of character.”
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