FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU got off to a quick start against No. 16 Kansas State.
That early spurt was about all the Horned Frogs had Wednesday night in a 67-54 loss to the Wildcats, the Big 12 co-leaders who won their seventh straight game.
"I thought we played probably as about as good as we could play for about the first 3 or 4 minutes," first-year TCU coach Trent Johnson said. "But like most good teams that are mature, skilled, understand their roles — we had a couple breakdowns defensively, we had a couple breakdowns offensively — and they make you pay."
TCU (9-8, 0-4 Big 12) was up 8-2 less than 3 minutes into the game after 3-pointers by Kyan Anderson and freshman Charles Hill Jr. When Garlon Green made a layup with 13:21 to go, the Frogs still led 10-5.
Just over 3 minutes later, they were behind and never caught up.
Kansas State (14-2, 3-0) overcame its slow start and took control of the game with a 19-4 run.
Rodney McGruder's layup with 11 minutes left in the first half tied the game at 10. The Wildcats led for good when McGruder had a defensive rebound and turned that into a fastbreak 3-pointer by Will Spradling. A floater by McGruder stretched the lead to 24-14.
"We came out a little lethargic. Our bench did a great job, our seniors did a great job of leading us and giving us the energy we needed. ... Rodney gets going," new Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "It's a good win."
Kansas State gets to go home for games against Oklahoma and No. 4 Kansas, the other teams off to 3-0 starts in the Big 12.
Adrick McKinney had 18 points and nine rebounds for TCU. Anderson had 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
McGruder had 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting with three 3-pointers and was the only K-State player in double figures. But three other Wildcats scored eight points, including Jordan Henriquez, who had 10 rebounds.
When the Horned Frogs cut the gap to five points with a chance to get closer before halftime, they started making mistakes.
Connell Crossland had a steal and passed to Anderson, but TCU's top scorer missed a layup after getting himself in an awkward position under the rim. Martavious Irvin then hit a 3-pointer for Kansas State. Anderson had a turnover that led to a 3 by McGruder.
When TCU freshman Clyde Smith III was called for a 10-second violation, unable to get the ball past midcourt while being defended by Irving, McGruder drove for a high bank shot and a 34-21 lead that matched Kansas State's biggest of the half.
"The past few days Coach has been on me how I've been playing defense lately," said Irving, who also forced a 5-second call against TCU. "I wanted to come out and make a statement in this game."
In 18 minutes off the bench, Irving had eight points, five assists and three steals.
TCU got the first basket after halftime when Devonta Abron scored, but McGruder responded with a 3-pointer and Spradling hit another from long range.
Kansas State and TCU played for the first time since a 1999 NIT game the Horned Frogs won. They had played five times previously, TCU winning that NIT game and another in the 1968 NCAA tournament while the Wildcats had won all three regular-season meetings.