“We beat a really good team in SMU,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “They kept battling. I’m really happy for our guys and how they played tonight. This is a great win for us; they’re a very good team.”
This win marked TCU’s first win against SMU in five seasons and Dixon’s first win over the Mustangs in his tenure as head coach of the Horned Frogs.
“It’s huge for our program and for our future moving forward,” Williams said. “One of my goals for my senior year was to beat SMU, and we got that done tonight.”
Strong shooting out of the gates from Williams pushed the Frogs in front of the Mustangs early. Williams knocked down his first two shot attempts, both of which came from behind the arc.
SMU was plagued by multiple fouls and put TCU into the bonus less than 10 minutes into the matchup. The Frogs took advantage of the Mustangs’ early foul trouble and opened up an eight-point advantage.
Led by Shake Milton and Ethan Chargois, SMU slowly chipped away at TCU’s lead and mounted a comeback to take a 27-25 lead with 6:47 remaining in the first frame.
The Frogs kicked it into gear in the final five minutes of the half. TCU closed the half on a 18-11 run, largely due to freshman forward Kouat Noi’s three-point touch. Noi nailed three three-pointers and grabbed two rebounds in eight minutes of action to extend the lead. The Horned Frogs held a 43-38 lead at halftime while converting on 51.7 percent of their field goal attempts and shooting 50 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Williams continued his outstanding performance throughout the first half. Through 20 minutes of play, he recorded 13 points on 4-5 shooting from the field, including 3-4 from beyond the arc, five rebounds and two assists.
For most of the second half, both the Frogs and the Mustangs played a tight ballgame. Momentum shifted in TCU’s favor in the latter portion of the half following a mind-boggling miscue by SMU’s Ben Emelogu.
With 8:56 remaining in regulation, a typical transition play by Williams turned in the Frogs’ favor as Emelogu dove for Williams’ legs to stop the fast break, committing a flagrant foul to extend TCU’s possession. The Horned Frogs converted four points on the play, capping a 13-3 run to extend TCU’s lead to 11 points, 67-56. Sophomore guard Desmond Bane capped the possession with TCU’s 11th three-pointer of the evening and TCU’s fifth consecutive conversion.
“I don’t think it was a malicious play at all,” Dixon said. “I thought our guys handled the play really well and showed a lot of maturity in that area. Typically plays like that turn into double-technicals.”
Williams said the foul even gave the Frogs an advantage.
“It got us fired up,” Williams said. “It kind of helped us in a way.”
The Frogs continued their momentum and opened up a 14-point lead late in the second half. The Mustangs refused to give up and clawed their way back to a five-point deficit with 92 seconds remaining in the game.
TCU was efficient from the line all evening, including the late stages of the game when it mattered most. The Horned Frogs shot 81 percent on free throws, including a near-perfect 11 for their last 12 to leave no doubt against their metroplex rivals.
Williams continued his strong outing in the second half, more than doubling his box score from the first half. He finished the contest with a team-high 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, one rebound shy of his fifth-consecutive double-double.
Williams credited his teammates for his strong performance.
“My teammates were finding me, and I was shooting with confidence tonight,” he said. “I give all the credit to my teammates; they put me in a great position.”
Strong play is nothing new for the senior and he’s finally beginning to catch the eyes of many on the professional level.
“People know who he is now,” Dixon said. “People are coming to watch our practices. People were at this game — NBA teams. They saw it at the NIT. The word’s out. He’s been very good. It’s an amazing story.”
TCU will travel to Los Angeles, California for their next matchup with No. 22 Nevada Wolf Pack. The game will be Dixon’s first game coaching in his hometown. The third matchup of the second annual Basketball Hall of Fame Classic will tip-off from the Staples Center at midnight Dec. 8.