If the Big 12 were a town in the Old West, the kind with shootouts at high noon and tumbleweeds galore, TCU would be the old town doctor that sits in the middle of the square.
The Wildcats, battered and beaten down the stretch of this season, have found themselves snakebitten. Head coach Bruce Weber has had a posse of angry fans after his hide for what seems like years now.
But twice this season, the Wildcats, closer to the shakiest rather than the fastest gun in the Big 12, were able to find refuge in the kind and gentle (and in my imagination, one-eyed and peg-legged) Horned Frogs.
“TCU,” the sign out front of the saloon read. “We’re good for what ails you.”
After reaching the highest of highs after taking down then-No. 1 Oklahoma in early February, the Wildcats faced two straight disappointments. First was a 10-point loss to Baylor. Then, an overtime loss to Oklahoma State on the road left the Wildcat’s previous built-up confidence in ruins.
A trip down the Chisholm Trail, however, proved therapeutic as K-State comfortably took care of TCU 63-49.
Three more losses followed the repreve, each one hurting a little more than the last. That treacherous road led to Wednesday night.
The half-full Bramlage resembled less Octagon of Doom and more ghost town as Senior Night did not seem to have the same sheen it did when Jacob Pullen or Rodney McGruder kissed the Powercat at half court.
And yet, the apothecary-like magic of Trent Johnson’s TCU team once again went to work as K-State went perfect from the floor for nearly the first 10 minutes of the game and had their second-best first-half scoring effort of the first half with 47 points.
The Wildcats led by as much 31 as they reached the final three minutes of the game. Senior guard Brian Rohleder scored his career high with 4 points, and senior guard Justin Edwards scored 10 or more for the seventh time in the last eight games.
The Wildcats coasted to their fifth conference win by a score of 79-54. The healing hand of TCU prevailed once again.
In the past seven-game stretch the Wildcats have found themselves on top twice, both times against the Horned Frogs.
Once again, TCU seemed to give the Wildcats just what they needed.
“Well I hope so,” Weber said after the game. “We have not been very good, whether it’s been Texas Tech or Oklahoma State, when we’ve had big wins to come back the next game. Now we’ll see if we can come back with some energy and emotion.”
The Wildcats, psyche restored, now must try to stay unscathed in their final games versus Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and — if they beat the Cowboys — a third matchup versus No. 1 Kansas.
The Horned Frogs have treated their wounds and drank some strong whiskey for their pain. Now they have to move forward, instead of teetering and falling back over. The Wildcats most likely won’t play TCU again until 2017.
Once you get into postseason, there are no doctors. From here on out, it’s the wilderness for the Wildcats. Let’s see if they stay alive.