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In a fitting end to Friday night’s NCAA Tournament first-round bonanza in downtown Denver, TCU’s JaKobe Coles beat No. 11 seed Arizona State with a last-second shot that plunged Ball Arena into the chaos.
In a game that featured 12 lead changes, six draws and each team leading up to 11 points, Mike Miles handed the ball to Coles when it mattered most. And the 6-foot-7 sophomore delivered, dribbling down the lane and sinking a floater with 1.5 seconds left as the sixth-seeded Horned Frogs cruised to a 72-70 victory over the Sun Devils.
“It was a big moment for sure,” Coles said. “It was definitely a good pass from Mike and I thought they were going to try to double him and I’m just taking the shots that I always take – I trust them.”
Miles was arguably the Day 1 player with a 26-point performance and four rebounds. He kept TCU in the game with aggressive drives that resulted in a 12-of-14 night from the free throw line, while also going 5-of-10 from the floor.
Despite trailing for much of the second half, the Horned Frogs (22-12) remained calm, as in, four turnovers on nighttime levels of calm, and Miles cleared it.
“Our message was just to stick together,” Miles said. “We had our run to start the game and they started making hard shots like they did in the first game. They cut the lead, they took the lead and we couldn’t get back to them. In the second half we decided to roll them a bit and we knew they weren’t going to make the same hard shots. We pulled together defensively and got some buckets. I trusted my teammates and it was a great victory.
The Sun Devils (23-13) were looking to become the third top-four team to advance to the second round as Pittsburgh and Farleigh Dickinson also picked up first-round wins. ASU nearly forced overtime, as moments before Coles shot, DJ Horne sank a 3-pointer that tied the game at 70 apiece with 12 seconds remaining, setting up the finish.
After coming back from a 13-2 hole early in the game, the Sun Devils’ athleticism was in the spotlight in the second half. Devan Cambridge completed a reverse jam that sent the ASU faithful inside Ball Arena into a frenzy.
Still, TCU chased him on the offensive glass, and the Horned Frogs were able to get the bonus with the mover nine minutes from the end of the second period. From there, it turned into a slugfest. ASU’s shooting percentage dropped from 60 percent in the first half and 60 percent from beyond the arc to just 36 percent.
That defensive effort, Horned Frogs head coach Jamie Dixon said, was pure-hearted, especially from Miles and point guard Damion Baugh (11 points).
“There was a moment in the second half when we were playing so hard. Defensively, we were arrested… We have good leadership but they are extremely competitive. I just felt like Mike and Damion weren’t going to let us lose. It’s a good tandem there.
TCU will again be tested at altitude against Drew Timmie and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
“They wanted each other to win, and that means a lot to me. The altitude affected me too,” joked Dixon. “They play with so much emotion. Yes, we didn’t play well, but we played hard. We got it and it shows a lot of character.
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TCU’s JaKobe Coles takes down Arizona State with game winner
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