NICEVILLE, FLA. — Mike Miles Jr., the Big 12 Conference Preseason Player of the Year, came off the bench scoring a game-high 23 points to key TCU to a 59-48 victory past Cal in the semifinal round of the Emerald Coast Classic Friday night.
TCU, which just missed an appearance in the latest Associated Press Poll by receiving the 26thmost votes, will face Iowa, which is ranked No. 25 for the championship Saturday.
Miles exploded for 17 points in the second half as TCU broke away from a 27-21 halftime lead.
“He (Miles) hasn’t practiced with us for a couple of weeks, “ said TCU coach Jamie Dixon, whose team improved to 4-1. “He was at yesterday’s practice and we kind of based him off of practicing yesterday. He looked like he was ready to go.
“But, we have to be better. We have to be better around him, finish some of those passes and get him better looks. He defended well and that’s what has really done well for us in the few games he has played for us. I think that’s brought a lot to the team. We’ve pretty much had to reinvent ourselves every game with a new lineup and different guys in different spots. It’s just what we have had to deal with. We will see what we got tomorrow.”
After Cal made back-to-back three-point baskets to cut the deficit to 46-38 with 7:42 left, TCU responded with an 8-2 run with Miles scoring four straight points to push the lead up to 54-40.
The Horned Frogs won the game despite shooting 39.3 percent from the floor. TCU relied on a strong defense forcing the Bears into 19 turnovers while committing a season-low seven miscues.
“I thought we created the style of game that we wanted to create,” said Cal coach Mark Fox, whose team slipped to 0-6. “We held TCU below 40 percent shooting. But we had some young player breakdowns and you can’t win with 19 turnovers.”
Lars Thiemann and Devin Askew led Cal with 12 points apiece. Thiemann grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.