TCU head coach Jamie Dixon credited the win to the team’s stellar defensive performance.
“We needed to win with defense, we held them to 33 percent from the field and out-rebounded them by six,” Dixon said. “We needed a win with our defense, and that’s the first game we won with our defense.”
Though the Frogs lead by just two at the end of the first half, they broke out of the gate ready to distance the score in the second, scoring 12 of the first 13 points.
TCU guard Desmond Bane played a key role in building the Frogs’ lead, hitting a tough layup in transition and two threes, causing West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins to call timeout with the Horned Frogs up 47-34.
“Desmond is huge for us,” TCU guard Kenrich Williams said. “So we try to get him involved, and he stepped up huge for us.”
Once the Mountaineers trimmed the TCU lead back down to single digits, 48-39, the Horned Frogs answered with six straight points on the strength of a Brodziansky and-one and a Shawn Olden three-pointer to push the lead up to 15, 54-39, with 10:34 left to play.
West Virgina’s frustration began to boil over as some pushing and shoving at halfcourt occurred with Mountaineer forward Wesley Harris, who earlier this season punched a Texas Tech fan on the court after the Red Raiders upset the then-No. 2 Mountaineers in Lubbock.
TCU forward Kouat Noi’s reaction to Harris resulted in a flagrant two foul and an automatic ejection. Noi finished with 13 points in 15 minutes on 5-7 shooting, including three shots from behind the arc.
“The threes were big for us,” Dixon said. “We know [Noi] can shoot it, and we’re just trying to get more and more rebounding out of him and defense. He was terrific knocking down shots for us, and we certainly needed him out there.”
Noi’s teammates said his impassioned play served as a morale boost for the team.
“He came in and hit some big shots early,” Williams said. “I think the little altercation got the crowd into it more, and it got us fired up in a way. It was huge for us.”
The Horned Frogs extended their lead to a high of 20 points when the score reached 63-43 after two Brodziansky free throws with 7:13 remaining– a solid lead after TCU’s one-point loss to the Mountaineers last season.
“We felt like they took the game away from us last year at home, losing by one,” TCU guard Alex Robinson said. “For me emotionally, I really wanted this game, and I’m sure it was the same with the rest of the team.”
Robinson led all players in scoring as well as minutes, with 17 points in his 39 minutes of play. The game only had one minute of play time pass without Robinson.
Robinson also dished a game-high nine assists when assisted plays counted for 20 of the Horned Frogs’ 25 made field goals. The West Virginia head coach said he was impressed with Robinson’s passing abilities.
“[TCU is] extremely well coached,” Huggins said. “And Robinson is as good as anybody in our league at finding open people.”
Dixon said Robinson’s effort on the glass stood out as the junior hauled in seven rebounds.
“The seven rebounds he got were huge,” Dixon said. “He played really good defense and really well. I’m most excited about the seven rebounds.”
The Horned Frogs were able to pull the victory despite Brodziansky and Williams’ shooting 0-9 from the three-point line and just 6-23 combined, partly thanks to Brodziansky’s total 14 points and 10 rebounds. The game marked his second double-double of the season. He also tied his career high with five blocks.
Williams finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, which tied for the second most this season.
“Vlad’s six three’s that he missed were wide-open, but I talked about winning ugly [being okay],” Dixon said. “We were going to have to find a way to out-rebound them, get layups and make free throws. I think this, going forward, will really help us a lot… I don’t know if they believed we could win just guarding and playing defense.”
TCU will take a break from Big 12 play as they head to Nashville for a Saturday showdown against Vanderbilt in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m..