KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)Christian Bishop’s basketball career began in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, included a three-year stretch at Creighton and ultimately a transfer to Texas, where he found himself in a starring role for the Longhorns before more than a dozen friends and relatives Friday night.
Bishop responded to his hometown crowd with 15 points, and Dylan Disu matched him with 15 of his own, while Tyrese Hunter made two free throws in the closing seconds to help No. 7 Texas edge No. 22 TCU 66-60 in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
Now, Bishop and the Longhorns will play third-ranked Kansas – the school just down the road from where he attended high school at Lee’s Summit West – for the tournament championship Saturday night.
“They’re a really well-coached team. A lot of good players,” Bishop said with a grin. “It’s always a great opportunity to play against a team like that. That’s why I came to Texas in the first place.”
The spot in the finals wasn’t in hand until the final minutes, when Micah Peavey’s miss that would have drawn TCU within 60-58 turned into a runout. Marcus Carr converted the layup at the other end for Texas to extend its lead, and Sir’Jabari Rice and Hunter made free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
“It wasn’t perfect,” interim Texas coach Rodney Terry said, “but they gave us incredible effort and determination.”
Mike Miles had 15 points to lead the sixth-seeded Horned Frogs (21-12). Chuck O’Bannon also had 12 points.
“It wasn’t our best game,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said, “but the effort was there. The desire was there. The focus was there. It just didn’t go our way. Maybe Texas had something to do with it.”
The majority of seats were empty for the second semifinal after Kansas and Iowa State fans, who typically snap up huge numbers of tickets, headed for the doors following the Jayhawks’ 71-58 win over the Cyclones. In fact, nearly every sneaker squeak could be heard from the rafters throughout much of the second half.
That probably won’t be the case Saturday night, when the third-ranked Jayhawks – and their boisterous fans – are back in the building to play Texas for a second consecutive Big 12 Tournament title.
“We’ll have an incredible challenge tomorrow against one of the top teams in the country,” Terry said.
The Horned Frogs breezed their way into the semifinals by lighting it up from the 3-point arc against Kansas State, when Miles and O’Bannon had six 3s apiece and each poured in 24 points in the easier-than-expected 80-67 victory.
Not surprisingly, Texas was determined to limit the Horned Frogs’ open looks on the perimeter. And when they went to the paint, the bigger Longhorns had an advantage. So despite missing all six of their own 3s in the first half, the Longhorns managed to forge a 34-26 lead by the break.
Disu and Bishop kept the Horned Frogs at bay during the second half.
Disu, a transfer from Vanderbilt, was at his best around the rim, where TCU’s best defense seemed to be sending him to the foul line. And Bishop, the Creighton transfer, set the tone for the final 20 minutes with a massive putback dunk and another jam a few minutes later, which helped the Longhorns extend their lead.
“Coach talked to us before the game, said we were going to have a heavy dose of putting the ball inside,” Disu said. “He trusted in us and believed in us to go in there and score.”
The belief paid off. And now Texas is playing for its second Big 12 tourney title in three years.
STILL NO ALLEN
Terry continued to rest veteran forward Timmy Allen, who has been dealing with a nagging lower leg injury. Allen said after the quarterfinals that he would have played in an NCAA Tournament game and hopes to be back soon.
TCU had plenty of opportunities to pull ahead down the stretch, but Miles missed an open 3 from the wing that would have made it 60-59 and several others had clean looks that didn’t go. TCU wound up shooting 36% from the field.
Texas overcame a 2-for-14 performance from the 3-point line by riding Disu and Bishop in the paint. The two big men helped the Longhorns to a 42-22 edge in points in the paint.
Texas will play the top-seeded Jayhawks for the tournament title Saturday night.
TCU awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding.
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