Against their toughest opponent of the season thus far, TCU basketball rose to the challenge, defeating Fresno State 77-69 to improve to 3-0 for the third-straight season.
“[That’s a] good learning experience for us,” said head coach Jamie Dixon. “We got what we wanted out of that.”
After the Bulldogs struck first with a tip-in by forward Sam Bittner, the Frogs responded with a dominant 10-0 run to take an early lead in the first quarter, forcing Fresno State to call a timeout.
The Bulldogs played strong coming out of the timeout, scoring eight straight to tie the game at 10.
The game went back-and-forth from there, with the Frogs leading 22-21 with 4:20 left in the half. The Bulldogs hot shooting from beyond the arc kept the game competitive.
“The three was their thing to keep them in it, and they had nine of them,” Dixon said. “We said our goal was to keep them at five.”
TCU turnovers and Fresno State continuing to shoot the ball well from deep had the Horned Frogs down 31-29 going into the halftime break.
“We lost the lead at the end of the half,” Dixon said. “The turnovers are just too high, and that’s what’s hurt us.”
Senior Alex Robinson attributed the slow start to the Frogs’ lack of experience.
Similar to the first half, the Horned Frogs started the second half red-hot. An early 10-4 run put them up 39-35 within the first three minutes of the half.
After sitting on the bench for extended time in the first half because of two early fouls, Robinson scored five quick, second-half points to help re-take the lead for TCU.
The senior point guard would finish with 13 points and a game-high 14 assists.
Led by the strong play of forward JD Miller, the Horned Frogs broke the game open from there, taking a ten-point lead with 13:23 left to go in the game. Miller had five points during that span and finished with 14.
Guard Desmond Bane would finish with a game-high 23 points to go with 7 rebounds in all 40 minutes of play.
“It’s something I really wanted to emphasize over the summer—just eating right and making sure I’m getting my extra conditioning in—just so that if games like this occur, I’ll be ready to go,” Bane said.
Efficiency would be key for the Frogs in the second half, as they improved their shooting percentage to an outstanding 51.7 percent.
“That’s a good sign: when you don’t feel good about your offense and you shoot 52 percent against a senior-dominated team,” Dixon said.
Center Kevin Samuel was a big part of this efficiency, scoring 14 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and six blocks.
Samuel’s six blocks were the most by a Frog since center Marlon Dumont had six against Southern Miss during the 2002 season.
“Kevin’s great. He’s a huge presence on defense for us and offense, obviously. We saw [that] today,” Bane said.
The Frogs will look to continue their hot start when they return to the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 to play Lipscomb in Schollmaier Arena.