Kenrich Williams drives to the rim against Belmont. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

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No. 23 TCU men’s basketball won for the first time as a member of the AP Top 25 this season, utilizing early runs of 11-2 and 20-4 to triumph 87-76 Wednesday at Schollmaier Arena.

TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky was the catalyst for the first scoring strike, hitting three three-pointers consecutively in under a minute and finishing with a game-high 22 points, including 17 in the first 20 minutes. The Slovakian hit a career-high five three-pointers on six attempts.

“I was just trying to help the team because I was open and they kept going in,” Brodziansky said. “My teammates just tell me a lot to shoot them, and they tell me don’t think about it, just shoot it.”

TCU forward JD Miller said Brodziansky’s hot hand usually leads to a desirable outcome for the Horned Frogs.

“When Vlad’s hitting three’s like that, we’re going to do good throughout the game,” Miller said. “We have to close-out a little better than we did defensively.”

TCU forward JD Miller finishes around the basket against Belmont forward Amanze Egekeze. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

After the Bruins clawed back, cutting the Horned Frog lead to five, 19-14, TCU put their foot on the accelerator, ripping off 15 unanswered points from the 10:43 mark to the seven-minute mark. The run gave the Horned Frogs a 20 point lead, 34-14, powered by a Kenrich Williams three-pointer, an Alex Robinson four-point play, a JD Miller lay-in, a Vladimir Brodziansky and-one finish and a Jaylen Fisher and-one lay-in.

A significant factor in the sustained offensive success for TCU was its mistake prevention. The Horned Frogs committed just 11 turnovers, its fewest this season.

“We got the turnovers back down,” Dixon said. “We really emphasized that the last two days, and guarding the three.” 

The Horned Frogs moved to 7-0 and extended a winning streak to 12 games dating back to last season when they won five-straight games on the way to the NIT championship.

 TCU dominated Belmont down low, outscoring the Bruins by eight 46-38 in the paint and out-rebounding them by 14, 37-23.

“I thought our offense was good,” Dixon said. “Spreading it around, 20 assists.”

Kenrich Williams led TCU with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with 11 points for his fourth double-double this year and for the 25th time in his career. The Horned Frogs improved to 29-5 when out-rebounding an opponent under Jamie Dixon.

“We’ve won the boards every game, and we’re still not satisfied by it,” Dixon said. “You have a guy on the wing [Williams] that gets 11, 10, 14, 17 rebounds a night as a wild card is unique as well as they only having one offensive rebound.”

The Bruins, the Ohio Valley Conference preseason favorite, came to Fort Worth boasting wins over Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee and a buzzer-beater defeat against Providence. Belmont also entered Wednesday with one of the nation’s 29 players who are averaging a double-double: forward Dylan Windler (15.7 pig and 11.6 rpg).

Belmont made a push before the halftime break, using a balanced attack to outscore the Horned Frogs 13-3 to cut TCU’s lead to 11 at the half, 42-31.

The Bruins refused to go away quietly in the second frame, cutting the TCU lead to nine with 9:35 remaining, but every time Belmont seemed to sneak within striking distance, the Horned Frogs created more breathing room. TCU responded to their lead being cut down to single-digits with back-to-back put-backs by forwards Miller and Ahmed Hamdy which pushed its lead back up to 13, 71-58 with 7:51 left to play.

However, the last 1:30 of the night provided some discomfort for TCU.

Belmont creeped even closer, trailing by just seven after an Amanze Egekeze three-pointer from the left wing. However, Brodziansky answered the long-range bucket with an emphatic two-handed jam that bumped the Horned Frogs lead back up to nine. Then, Belmont guard Kevin McClain drew a fourth foul on Williams and proceeded to hit both his free throws to trim the TCU advantage back to seven.

Dixon said the defensive game plan led to a Horned Frog victory but also allowed for the Bruins to hang around until the very end.

“We emphasized guarding the three with the way we felt they could be in the game was making three’s,” Dixon said. “We kept them from getting three’s at a high percentage… which is how we had a 21-point lead end up as an 11 point win against a good team.”

 

TCU guard Desmond Bane drives to rim against Belmont. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

The Horned Frogs continue their three-game homestead at 7 p.m. Saturday against Yale.