Drew Timme’s new nightmare? A reunion with TCU’s JaKobe Coles.
Before you stick a fork in TCU, know this: The last time JaKobe Coles was asked to defend Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, he held the Zags star scoreless for more than six minutes straight.
“We definitely don’t shy away from anything,” TCU forward Coles, Ball Arena’s late-night hero, told me inside the Horned Frogs locker room after his last-second teardrop cinched a 72-70 NCAA tourney win over Arizona State and shot the 6 seed into a Sunday tussle with the third-seeded Zags.
“We’ve played the best teams. We’ve played in the biggest environments. We’re ready for this opportunity. We’re ready to win. And that’s what we’re looking forward to. Go back to the drawing board, get some rest, be ready for Sunday.”
“So what do you know about Gonzaga?” I asked.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore pondered for a second.
“I know a couple of players,” Coles replied. “Drew Timme, I played his high school in the playoffs one time.”
Yeah, but it was one heck of a time. Back in February 2019, Timme was a 6-foot-10 monster at Richardson (Texas) Pearce High, having already committed to the Zags as a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
The teen’s senior year came to a screeching halt, though, once he ran into Guyer High. Or, more specifically, when he ran into Coles.
With the Guyer standout and future Frog all up in his grille, the insanely gifted Timme didn’t score until there were only a few seconds left in the first quarter. Timme finished the first half with nine points, most of which came after Coles had picked up two quick fouls trying to keep one of the best prep big men in the country from going ballistic.
On the first possession of the second half, Coles got whistled for his third foul, forcing Guyer coach Grant Long to rotate him away from Timme — who, sure enough, took off, pouring in 17 points over the third and fourth quarters. It wasn’t enough, as Guyer and Coles snatched a 75-57 victory.
“This guy,” TCU guard Mike Miles Jr. said of Coles, smiling as he sat in front of his locker stall, right knee wrapped in ice, “has done this before.”
Heck, Miles has done this stuff for years. Before you laugh off TCU’s chances to crash the Sweet 16, know this, too: Since November 2021, Miles is 11-4 when leading the Frogs on a neutral floor. He’s 2-1 over his last three forays into Bracketville.
The kid’s a smaller James Harden — tough, clever, cool and cheeky, a 6-2 cocktail of guts and guile that’s rarely shaken or stirred.
“Yeah, you could see he was really taking it on to try and bring us back,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said of Miles, who rebounded from a nasty spill late in the first half to post a game-high 26 points against ASU, 12 of which came at the charity stripe. “Willing us to (a win).”
As strong as he is with the ball in his mitts, Miles can be twice as savvy in a pinch. His run at the NCAA Tournament last March ended when he drew a pair of Arizona defenders on a trap on his own end of the floor during the closing seconds of a tie game. Miles would collide with one Wildcat as the rock flew out of his hands, forcing overtime.
Late Friday, Miles collided straight into deja vu — another tie game, this time on Chopper Circle against the Sun Devils with about 12 seconds left.
“Last year against Arizona, I didn’t get (rid) of it,” Miles recalled. “I knew (Arizona State was) going to double this time. And that was playing in my mind the whole time. I didn’t want it to happen again.”
Sure enough, the Sun Devils doubled him at the top of the arc with five seconds left on the clock. But rather than force the issue, the junior guard drew two defenders with him and quickly shifted the ball to Coles, his screener — who was all alone to his left and blessed with nothing but space with which to either pop or glide into the paint.
The sophomore settled for something in between. He drove on smaller ASU guard Frankie Collins before lofting a dagger that arced high above two Sun Devils with 1.5 seconds left to send the 11 seed home.
“(Collins) closed out pretty hard, so I was kind of surprised,” said Coles, who finished with 11 points and five boards on the night. “But luckily, I read it, got past him, got my shot up a little bit and it went in.”
Like the man said, these Frogs don’t shy away from anything. And nothing busts a bracket like attitude at altitude.
“Once I got my second wind, (the air) was actually pretty easy to get used to,” Coles laughed. “But definitely, it’s no joke.”
Know this: Neither are they.
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