Watching from the TCU bench for most of last season, JaKobe Coles has been patiently waiting his turn.
His reward came on Friday night, a floater from the lane with 1.5 seconds left that put the No. 6 TCU to a 72-70 comeback victory over 11th seed Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Denver, Colorado.
“He didn’t have the role he wanted,” said Mike Miles Jr., the teammate who convinced him to come to TCU and provided the pass that led to the winning bucket. “But this year he’s getting the minutes he wanted. He’s stepping up. In the biggest game of his life, he hit the game-winning shot.”
Coles caught Miles’ pass from the top of the 3-point circle, dribbled once, took two steps, and let go of the game winner.
A desperate gasp from Arizona State guard Frankie Collins at the buzzer missed everything and left coach Bobby Hurley wondering if he should have used a timeout to set up a show.
“It’s definitely something I’ll think about,” Hurley said.
TCU (22-12) advanced to face Gonzaga Sunday night. The game begins at 8:40 pm Central Time and will be televised on TBS.
Arizona State’s season ended in heartbreak, but no one can say the Sun Devils (23-13) didn’t put on a show.
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They took an 11-point lead early in the second half, punctuated by a pair of dunks. One was from Collins – with a defender draped over him – and another from Devan Cambridge, who finished off a fast break with a rear power slam.
That’s when TCU started to fall apart.
A pair of free throws by Damion Baugh — and another by Miles — gave the Horned Frogs a three-point lead with 24 seconds left.
DJ Horne, who finished with 17 points, responded with a deep three-pointer to tie it up with 70 with 15 seconds left.
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It was just setting the stage for Coles, who finished with 11 points.
“It was a good shot,” Coles said. “I’m happy for my team, happy for the win.”
Miles, playing with his right knee hyperextended, had 26 points, including 12 of 14 from the free throw line.
He was noticeably limping shortly after a halftime dunk. Miles was greeted by the coach as he walked off the field for half-time, but returned after the break. The Horned Frogs also needed him, as they made big play after big play. He drew a key charge at the end of the game.
Miles missed a series of games in early February with a hyperextended right knee.
As for last-second shooting, TCU coach Jamie Dixon credited his team for the win by committing just five turnovers, which matched his season-low. Those turnovers resulted in just four ASU points.
Perhaps still a little tired from their road trip from Dayton, Ohio, the Sun Devils took a moment to acclimate. The 11 seed was under 11 before even breaking a big sweat. But they quickly found their groove, just like they did on Wednesday when they scored 98 points in a First Four win over Nevada.
“Just heartbreak for my boys,” Hurley said. “They played game-winning basketball all year, played selflessly and fought and battled and it took a last second hit to put us out.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are definitely back on track after going 14-17 last season and 11-14 in 2020-21. When asked about the status of the show, Hurley replied: “Did you watch the game? This is the status of the program.
TCU: The Horned Frogs improve to 7-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
TCU and Gonzaga haven’t met on the basketball court since the Horned Frogs’ 90-87 win on Dec. 30, 1998. But there’s plenty of respect from Bulldogs head coach Mark Few. “I watched TCU a lot this year. I think they are good as a team in this tournament, especially when they are in their top tier,” said Few, whose team is the third seed in the West region.