TCU men’s basketball rebounded from their first loss of the season as they cruised to an 87-69 victory over Eastern Michigan Monday night behind a career-high 27 points from forward Kouat Noi.
“It sucks to lose,” Noi said. “This past week, we’ve been going hard every day and pushing each other, and it showed tonight.”
In just his second game back from injury, the sophomore from Newcastle, Australia shot 11-15 from the field and 5-8 from three to go with four assists and two rebounds.
“I’m always comfortable shooting the ball,” Noi said. “It was a good game today, and I give all the credit to my teammates for finding me when I was open.”
Noi’s performance played a big part in TCU’s season-high 60.7 shooting percentage.
The Horned Frogs stuttered out of the gates, as they missed nine of their first 11 shots and found themselves down 11-2 with 13:02 left in the first half.
“This was going against zone for the first time, so you saw the struggles early,” said head coach Jamie Dixon.
The Horned Frogs adjusted, and from there, it was all TCU.
The long-awaited return of guard Jaylen Fisher finally paid off. While he officially returned in TCU’s previous game against Lipscomb, the junior only played seven minutes and did not score.
In a span of 2:28, Fisher announced his return by hitting on three-straight three-point attempts. His electric shooting was part of a 20-6 run by the Horned Frogs, propelling them to a 35-24 halftime lead.
“I just felt like that’s what the team needed then, you know what I mean, just a spark of the bench,” Fisher said. “It was just a blessing for me to come in and do that.”
Fisher finished the game with 12 points and five assists in 31 minutes played. He said after the game that his knee felt “not one hundred percent, but it will get there.”
TCU thrived defensively, scoring 21 points off of 16 forced turnovers.
“It kept us going in the first half and eventually got us going in some offense,” Dixon said. “We want our defense to lead to more offense. That’s something we need to do.”
Led by Noi and center Kevin Samuel in the second half, the Horned Frogs attacked from both outside the three-point line and inside the paint.
Samuel finished the game with 15 points on 7-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two blocks.
“You have Kouat and Jaylen, you know, they open up the floor with their shooting ability,” Samuel said. “It opens up the floor, so you can get me inside.”
TCU shot 67 percent on 19 assists in the second half, including six three-pointers and five dunks.
The victory pushes TCU’s record to 4-1 on the season, no longer in the top 25 after falling to Lipscomb.
The Horned Frogs will return to the court at 6:30 p.m. on Friday to face Central Michigan at Schollmaier Arena.