TCU broke the prior school record of 16 straight wins under Billy Tubbs in 1997-98, the last time they made the NCAA Tournament.
The most impressive part of the victory was the Horned Frogs doing it without leading scorer and rebounder guard Kenrich Williams.
“Kenrich does a lot for our team, so we knew we were going to miss him in the rebounding department especially, as well as scoring,” TCU point guard Alex Robinson said. “As a team, we decided to step up because one person can’t fill his shoes, that’s what we did tonight.”
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon liked what he saw from his team without Williams.
“We held them to 42 percent from the field, but it’s those 15 three’s that make it an aberration,” Dixon said. “They did what they wanted to do offensively, we didn’t get any turnovers out of them. They spread the floor and made some tough shots, but if you told me we’d win by 11 without our best player, we out-rebound them 17, shoot 62 percent and have 10 or fewer turnovers, we did what we wanted to do.”
Dixon said Williams missed Friday’s game with knee “soreness and discomfort” the coaches caught during shootaround.
“Nothing serious from the MRI, but we’ll see how it looks tomorrow,” Dixon said. “He had an MRI early in the year in August and there doesn’t seem to be a difference so time will be good, but he definitely couldn’t go today.”
While TCU’s top player will likely be ready to go in the Horned Frogs’ Big 12 opener, Dixon said the team will proceed with caution by providing Williams with treatment around the clock. He missed the 2015-2016 season due to a knee injury.
Point guards Jaylen Fisher and Alex Robinson picked up the slack, scoring 44 points between them. Robinson was one point away from his career-high of 24 with 23 points, and Fisher finished just behind him with 21.
“It’s a chemistry, there’s just this automatic feel for the game once I’m out there with him[Robinson], it’s easier to penetrate and get other players shots,” Fisher said. “He makes playing easier.”
The Horned Frogs utilized an early, physical 10-0 run powered by four lay-ins at the rim, two coming from Robinson, in the first five minutes against the Tribe. The stretch foreshadowed a trend-TCU’s dominance in the paint.
The Horned Frogs completely closed off the Tribe’s interior offense in the first half, not allowing a single point in the paint in the first 20 minutes. TCU, on the other hand, camped out down low, scoring 28 points underneath the basket in the first half. The Horned Frogs finished the night out-rebounding the Tribe, 39-22, and out-scoring them down low by 38, 52-14. It was the Frogs’ second-straight game with 52 points in the paint, tying a season high.
However, the Horned Frogs weren’t able to shake shooting woes from deep or the strong long-range efficiency by the Tribe to start the night, going 0-10 from the three-point line in the first half, whereas William & Mary found all but 10 of its first-half points from three, hitting seven in the first 20 minutes of action, which allowed the Tribe to stay within striking distance at the half as TCU lead by just five, 36-31.
The Tribe inched as close as one bucket, behind by just two points, 70-68, with 6:32 left to play following a layup from sophomore forward Nathan Knight. Sensing the rising confidence coming from the visitors, TCU struck back scoring seven 0f the next nine points to jump ahead by seven, 77-70. The stretch was sparked by a three-pointer from TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher and continued by layups from Robinson and senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky.
“Everybody wants to take that big shot, it’s a matter of your team and moving the ball and taking a good shot,” Fisher said. “I’m not going down saying this is my play, but it was just a matter of my teammates giving me the ball knowing I was hot, having made two. It’s that confidence we have in each other.”
TCU has eight days between games, giving them time to ponder how to stop college basketball’s leading scorer, freshman point guard Trae Young who is averaging 28.5points per game, and the Oklahoma Sooners.
“I take it like any other game, we’ve played some good players, at Nevada, we’ve played a few teams with NBA prospects, I’m sure he’s one of them,” Robinson said about Young. “Coach will have us ready just like he’ll have us ready for our other big games against Baylor and Kansas after that. We’ll approach it just like we approach those games.”
Tipoff at Schollmaier Arena for TCU’s first Big 12 conference game is set for 1 p.m. Dec. 30.