Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

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The Horned Frogs faced a pesky South Dakota Coyotes squad Wednesday evening, and poor defense by the TCU combined with multiple unforced errors kept the game tight all night. However, the Horned Frogs outlasted the Coyotes in the waning moments to win 76-71. The victory caps a stretch of three games in five days with a victory.

“We knew when we scheduled [South Dakota] that they were good and well-coached,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “I’m really impressed with their team, they had a one day turnaround from playing at Bowling Green. They’re tough and experienced.”

It took some time before the Frogs got their offense rolling in the first half. The first point scored by TCU came off a free throw by J.D. Miller two minutes and 45 seconds into the game. Vladamir Brodziansky recorded the Frogs’ first successful field goal 45 seconds later.

TCU forward JD Miller shoots a pull-up jumper on the run against South Dakota. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

The Frogs got hot from the field midway through the first half, scoring on six of eight field goals. TCU utilized that scoring spurt to grab their first lead of the game at 20-19 just over 10 minutes into the half.

Turnovers, inadequate offensive production and lacking defense plagued the Frogs in the first half. TCU committed eight turnovers and allowed seven points off the turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. TCU was unable to defend the paint in the first 20 minutes, allowing 20 points in the post.

“I’m not happy at all with the way we played offensively,” Dixon said. “We did not handle the ball screen and double team very well at all. I thought we would be playing better right now than we played tonight. The turnovers early set the tone.”

A team-high 10 points in the first half by freshman forward Kouat Noi kept the game competitive until the TCU hit another scoring wave in the late stages of the half. This stretch expanded the lead to a comfortable margin entering the locker room at halftime. TCU capitalized on four of their final six shots to expand their lead to nine points, up 42-33.

“Coach always tells me to be ready to contribute when my number is called,” Noi said. “I’m grateful to have made the most of the opportunity.”

Dixon praised his redshirt freshman forward.

“[Kouat] has been very good,” Dixon said. “He’s making shots, getting out in transition and rebounded some today. We know that he can come in and give us a spark, but we need him to get better defensively and be a better decision maker.”

Hot shooting from the preseason first-team all-Summit League honoree guard Matt Mooney kept the game interesting in the second half. Mooney knocked down two consecutive three-point daggers to close the gap to four points with just under 16 minutes remaining in the second half.

The Coyotes continued to chip away at the lead in the second half due to many unforced errors committed by the Frogs, including multiple traveling calls and missed layups. The Frogs matched their turnover total from the first half with five minutes remaining in regulation.

Mooney tied the ball game at 68 with just over three minutes remaining in the half. The basket put him at 28 points on the night. Mooney finished the night with 31 total points, combing for 53 total points with teammate Tyler Hagendorn.

With 23 seconds remaining, Brodiansky made a huge hook shot over a couple of defenders to push the Horned Frog advantage to three. Mooney missed a three-pointer from roughly three feet behind the arc, and the Coyotes were forced to foul to stop the clock. Noi converted on both free throws to seal the deal for the Frogs.

TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky shoots a hook shot over two Coyote defenders. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

Brodziansky said TCU needs to improve on the defensive end of the ball and on their ball control.

“We’re tired, but that’s part of it,” Brodziansky said. “We have a few days before our next game, so we will be ready.”

Up next for the Frogs is the Omaha Mavericks who will travel to Fort Worth Monday, Nov. 20. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m.