DENVER – Watching from the bench for most of last season, JaKobe Coles patiently waited his turn.
His reward came Friday night, a floater from the lane with 1.5 seconds left that lifted No. 6 seed TCU to a come-from-behind 72-70 win over 11th-seeded Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“He didn’t have the role he wanted,” said Mike Miles Jr., the teammate who talked him into coming to TCU and fed him 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 made the game-winning shot.”
Coles took the pass from Miles from the top of the 3-point circle, dribbled once, took two steps and let go of the game-winner.
A desperation heave by 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 play.
“It’s certainly something I’ll think about,” Hurley said.
While TCU (22-12) advanced to play Gonzaga on Sunday, Arizona State’s season ended in heart-breaking fashion. Nobody could say the Sun Devils (23-13) didn’t put on a show.
They took an 11-point lead early in the second half punctuated by a pair of highlight-reel dunks. One was from Collins – with a defender draped all over him – and another from Devan Cambridge, who finished a fast break with a backward power slam.
That’s when TCU started chipping away.
A pair of free throws by Damion Baugh – and another by Miles – gave the Horned Frogs a three-point lead with 24 seconds remaining.
DJ Horne, who finished with 17 points, answered with a deep 3-pointer to tie it up at 70 with 15 seconds left.
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 on a hyperextended right knee, had 26 points, including 12 of 14 from the free throw line.
He was noticeably limping shortly after a dunk late in the first half. Miles was greeted by the trainer as he walked off the court for halftime, but returned after the break. The Horned Frogs needed him, too, as made big play after big play. He drew a pivotal charge late in the game.
Miles missed a stretch of games in early February with a hyperextended right knee.
As much as the last-second shot, TCU coach Jamie Dixon credited the win to his team committing only five turnovers, which matched its season low. Those turnovers led to only four ASU points.
Possibly still a little weary from their trip in from Dayton, Ohio, the Sun Devils took a moment to get acclimated. The 11 seed was down 11 before even breaking much of a sweat. But they quickly found their rhythm – just like they did two days ago, when they scored 98 points in a First Four win over Nevada.
“Just heartbroken for my guys,” Hurley said. “They played winning basketball all year, played unselfishly, battled and fought and it took a last-second shot to put us away.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are definitely back on the right track after going 14-17 last season and 11-14 in 2020-21. Asked about the state of the program, Hurley responded: “Did you watch the game? That’s the state of the program.”
TCU: The Horned Frogs improved to 7-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
TCU and Gonzaga haven’t met on the basketball floor since a 90-87 Horned Frogs win on Dec. 30, 1998. But there’s plenty of respect on the part of Bulldogs coach Mark Few. “I’ve watched TCU a lot this year. I think they’re as good of team as there is in this tournament, especially when they’re at their high end,” said Few, whose team is the third seed in the West Region.