Men’s basketball shakes off slow first half to beat Southwestern in season opener

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Guard Desmond Bane led TCU with 26 points in the season-opening win. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

After a slow first half, TCU men’s basketball shot 50% as a team in the second half to defeat the Division 3 Southwestern Pirates in their season opener, 83-62.

“This team’s all about growing,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “I’m still real confident about where this team’s going to get to.”

Returners Desmond Bane, Kevin Samuel and RJ Nembhard combined for 57 points in the victory. Bane led all Frogs with 26 points to go with four assists and three rebounds.

Behind hot shooting from Bane, TCU jumped out to an early 19-8 lead. The senior hit three from behind the arc in the first six minutes.

In early October, Bane had said improving his three-point shot was one of his goals for the year, pointing to the feedback that NBA scouts had given him during the offseason.

It would be three-point shooting that would get Southwestern back in the game, though, as the Pirates, led by forward Brandon Alexander, pulled to within five with 4:49 left in the half.

Alexander scored a game-high 20 points while going 4-for-6 from deep in the first half alone. As a team, Southwestern shot 50% from the three-point range in the first 20 minutes to keep themselves alive.

The Frogs headed into the halftime locker room holding on to a slim 43-28 lead.

Looking to give TCU a spark, Bane hit his fourth three-pointer of the game in the opening moments of the first half. Minutes later, Bane caught a lob from Nembhard and threw down a ferocious dunk and one over his defender to give the Frogs a 14-point lead.

The alley-oop was part of a 15-0 run by the Frogs to blow the game wide open early in the half.

TCU would slowly continue to pull away as the half went on, finishing with a 21-point victory. Edric Dennis Jr., PJ Fuller and Jaire Grayer each scored their first points in the purple-and-white in the contest. 

Graduate transfer Edric Dennis Jr. did a little of everything in his first game with TCU. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

Dennis Jr. finished with nine points to go with two assists and three steals.

Alexander finished with a game-high 28 points for Southwestern on 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-for-8 from three-point range.

“We knew he [Alexander] could score,” Dixon said. “Give him credit. I think we gave him a couple of open ones early.”

TCU was out-rebounded 35-33 on the night while also committing 12 turnovers. The Frogs have a lot to improve on before being ready for a competitive Big 12 conference.

“It’s been an emphasis from the day they got here,” Dixon said about his team’s 12 turnovers. “We’ve got to do a better job in that area.”

Up next, the Frogs will look to stay undefeated, as they face Louisiana Lafeyette at home on Nov. 12.  Tipoff at Schollmaier Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.