Another freshman, forward Oshae Brissett, was the key Tuesday, with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.
The Frogs, who led the Big 12 in offense and were averaging 83 points a game, were stymied by the Syracuse zone defense and when the outside shots weren't falling, each miss started to amplify, perhaps tensions of the tournament started to play with their confidence.
The Orange will now face No. 3 seed Michigan State Sunday at 2:40 p.m.in the second round.
To their credit, the Frogs closed the season strong, winning four in a row at one point and five of seven, with the only losses in that stretch coming at West Virginia (No. 5 seed in NCAA Tournament) and Texas Tech (No. 3 seed). "The only reason we were in the game was the way he played early". But Tyus Battle and Frank Howard made jump shots for a 54-49 Syracuse lead, and the Orange defense clamped down on TCU. "The WNIT works that you have to win and have good crowds to keep playing at home, and I love that we're going to get another opportunity to play at home on Saturday".
Dixon, who was a master while at Pitt at attacking Syracuse's zone, said his TCU team will learn from this. The Horned Frogs are in their first tournament since 1998 and have the offense to strike fear in any opponent. But Dixon has proven that he can go up against Boeheim and win like few others can, and his team stacks up well with the challenge that Syracuse brings to the table.
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Oh no, you had Virginia winning the whole thing, didn't you? Who are the dark horses? Seeing those guys do it made it more real. If you're a big believer in momentum in sports, it's an open question what the time off will do to the Wolverines.
Sophomore guard Desmond Bane said he felt like his team underachieved.
"Offensively we had some struggles, which obviously hasn't been an issue with us all year long". Play was stopped after Brissett took a hard fall late in the first half, but after a timeout he remained in the game. "But you've got get second shots, you've got to get putbacks".
Enter Marek Dolezaj, who dominated the Horned Frogs for 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting through the games first 33 minutes of actions, and single-handedly kept Syracuse in the game throughout the entirety of the first half, and the first 13 minutes of the second frame. "Our plan is to build unrealistic expectations and no one has higher expectations than me".
TCU turned it over 13 times, and Syracuse turned those miscues into 11 points.
As Dixon knows quite well, there are two major components to beating Syracuse: rebounding and 3-point shooting.