After throwing down a monster dunk late in the first half of TCU’s win over Arizona State on Friday at Ball Arena, Horned Frogs star Mike Miles Jr. limped to the sideline and was favoring his right knee, which he hyperextended earlier in the season.
But Miles got back in and finished with a game-high 26 points as TCU beat ASU on JaKobe Cole’s last-second shot, 72-70 — a bucket that was assisted by Miles.
Guess the knee wasn’t too hurt.
Miles indicated as much Saturday, ahead of TCU’s second-round date with Gonzaga on Sunday in Denver and following what Miles said was his best all-time dunk.
“It’s probably number one — I don’t think I had a dunk better than that,” Miles said. “My knee feels good. It stung a little bit, but I’ve been getting treatment. But it feels good… I’ll be ready for (Sunday).”
Miles missed nine games during the regular season, with the knee injury, a foot injury and other health issues sidelining him. He wasn’t the only one in the lineup who struggled to stay healthy as TCU used 15 different starting lineups, the most of any Power 5 team. But with Miles now relatively healthy, No. 6 TCU will be a tough out, even as an underdog to No. 3 Gonzaga.
Mark Few’s Bulldogs were 0-2 against the Big 12 this season, with losses to Texas (93-74 on Nov. 16) and Baylor (64-63 on Dec. 2), and the Horned Frogs believe they can replicate that by making Gonzaga earn its way up the floor.
“The Big 12 is a different intensity on the defensive end, and I think that bothered Gonzaga,” said junior forward Chuck O’Bannon. “We’re going to try to pressure them all game, make them uncomfortable.”
Coach Jamie Dixon knows TCU will have its hands full containing the Bulldogs’ scoring, as Gonzaga ranks No. 1 in the country in offensive team efficiency. The Bulldogs have four scorers averaging double digits but are headlined by senior forward Drew Timme, who is averaging 20.9 points per game along with 7.3 rebounds.
Dixon said it’s going to require “team defense” to limit Timme, and prevent his hot hand from opening up Gonzaga’s other shooters.
“We haven’t played a lot of guys or a lot of teams where their offense revolves around their inside guys, especially one guy in particular,” Dixon said. “It’s a challenge. You want to stop (Timme), but you don’t want to give other guys shots, and that’s what makes them so good. They’re so balanced… We’ll be changing things up, adapting, just like we did last night.”
Dixon said that Miles will be critical once again, a couple days after leading a second-half comeback against ASU where the point guard “kind of willed us to win along with (senior guard) Damion (Baugh).”
“He continued to attack when we were down, and never gave up,” Dixon said. “But he’s also very unselfish. When you see the last two plays (against ASU), he makes the right pass to Damion for a wide-open three and hits JaKobe on the double-team, who was wide-open at the time. He can do all things.”
But are those boots made for walking? Baylor coach Scott Drew was in rare form during the off-day news conferences Saturday afternoon at Ball Arena in advance of Sunday’s second-round NCAA tourney matchup with Creighton.
When asked by reporters how he would simulate the presence of Bluejays star center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who checks in at 7-foot-1, in practice, the longtime Bears coach quipped, “Yeah, we’ve got cowboy boots for (center) Flo (Thamba). So we’re good.”
And on Creighton sharpshooter Baylor Scheierman?
“He’s definitely got the best name in the tournament,” Drew countered. “Hopefully, this Baylor does better than that Baylor (Sunday).”
Pac-12, Big 12 commissioners visit. While rumors continue to swirl regarding CU and the future of the Pac-12 television contract, Ball Arena was visited by the two Power 5 commissioners who’ve reportedly had the Buffs in their sights. Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark attended the early session of the NCAA tourney’s first round Friday, while Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff attended Friday’s evening session. Three of the Power 5 bosses were spotted at Ball Arena, as ACC commish Jim Phillips also attended the opening session.
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