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SALT LAKE CITY — The neutral-site contest was dubbed the Simmons Bank Showdown, though it was anything but that.
Utah shot 33.9% from the field and struggled to get into a rhythm on either ends of the court as TCU controlled a double-digit lead for much of the game to earn a 76-62 victory over the Utes at Dickes Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday night.
"I thought we really executed our stuff on offense and were doing some really good things defensively and then their pressure really ramped up and I thought we just got standing around a lot," Utah head coach Craig Smith said. "I tried to give our guys a lot more structure, specifically in the second half, and I think it helped on the offensive end. But our defense wasn't nearly as good; I thought that wore down."
The Utes controlled a 6-point lead early in the game and were primed to establish offensive dominance by making five of their first six shots of the game. It was much of the same on defense, too, as Utah (6-3, 1-1 Pac-12) limited TCU and kept one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country to zero offensive rebounds until the 11:16 mark in the first half.
And whether it was TCU (7-1) getting its first offensive rebound or something else — it could have also been a flagrant 1 foul called on David Jenkins Jr. — it proved to be the turning point in the night as the Horned Frogs slowly chipped away at Utah's lead before closing out the first half on a 10-0 run over a four-minute period.
Utah had only one field goal in the final seven minutes of the first half and had no answer to stop TCU.
Those answers never came in the second half as Utah couldn't get closer than an 8-point deficit with just over seven minutes left to play in the game. And though shots weren't falling, Utah got some added help by being in the bonus with 14 minutes left to play.
Utah finished the game shooting 21-of-25 from the free-throw line, but it wasn't enough to combat a TCU team that played with confidence and forced the Utes into different defensive looks to combat the Horned Frogs' post play. TCU finished with 44 in the post and outrebounded Utah 43-33.
"When you shoot 33%, it's gonna be hard to win against anybody," Smith said. "What counterbalanced that a little bit is the fact we got to the line 25 times and that equated to 21 made free throws and a third of our points.
"We've got to be better at owning the paint, in all respects, so we'll get better from this. It's a tough one, certainly; it was a tough, physical, rugged game, but we've got to grow from this and get better. We have no time to feel sorry for ourselves."
TCU guard Mike Miles opened up the game with the first 10 points of the team's 12 points and never cooled down. Miles closed out the first half with 15 points and finished with a game-high 28 points to lead the Horned Frogs to victory. JaKobe Coles added 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Emanuel Miller added 10 points of his own for TCU.
Utah's Branden Carlson led Utah with 16 points and nine rebounds in the loss. He was joined in double figures by Both Gach, who finished with 16 points and five rebounds as the team made only 19 baskets on 56 attempts on the night.