The Horned Frogs were given a scare at home Monday against Texas Southern, trailing the Tigers by as many as four with two minutes remaining in the first half, but TCU came alive in the second half, winning by 19, 91-72.
TCU entered Monday first in the Big 12 and second in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 53.1 percent, but the Horned Frogs were hampered by shooting woes in the first 20 minutes, making just 15 of their first 35 shots and hit just one of its six first-half three-pointers.
“These guys got away with using the zone on us early, we missed shots and didn’t get the ball inside enough,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “Texas Southern, have so much respect for those kids, and they have the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country, pretty sure they’ll be in the NCAA Tournament again.”
Another factor in the Tigers’ first-half success was point guard Demontrae Jefferson, who scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the opening 20 minutes.
“We stepped it up defensively in the second half because we let Jefferson get going in the first half, which we didn’t want to happen,” TCU forward JD Miller said.
The second half was a different story.
Tied at 43 with just a minute gone by in the second half, TCU guard Kenrich Williams spearheaded a 10-0 run by the Horned Frogs, chipping in eight, including back-to-back three-pointers. The Horned Frogs never trailed again the rest of the night.
Miller led all TCU players in scoring with 20, forward Vladimir Brodziansky chipped in 18 without shooting a three-pointer, and Kenrich Williams added 17 points before fouling out.
Texas Southern was TCU’s sixth straight opponent that was picked toward the top of its conference. The Horned Frogs have played against St. Bonaventure (2nd, A10), Belmont (1st, OVC), Yale (2nd, Ivy), SMU (4th, AAC), Nevada (1st, MWC) and Texas Southern (1st, SWAC).
The Horned Frogs overcame the presence of the Tigers’ 7 foot 2-inch behemoth at center in Trayvon Reed to win the battle down low. TCU out-rebounded Texas Southern 51-29 and out-scored them in the paint, 52-30.
“Their center is 7-2, but their four-man was undersized,” Miller said. “I tried to go at him as much as I could, which worked out for me.”
TCU has now won 16 straight games dating back to last season’s NIT Championship run as it won its eleventh straight contest this season. The 16 consecutive victories tie a program record set in 1998, winning 16 straight from Jan. 8 to March 5, 1998.
The last time the Horned Frogs won like this to begin a season was when they won a school-record 13 consecutive games to open a season in December 2014.
“I like our rotation and where we’re at,” Dixon said. “We knew Nevada and SMU were good, we played St. Bonaventure who has a high RPI. We expect to win. I didn’t have any games on this schedule that I expect to lose. It’s a good thing, records are good, that’s what we came here to do. “
The Horned Frogs play their final non-conference game Friday at Schollmaier Arena against William & Mary. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.