After COVID-19 ripped away their postseason hopes in March, TCU basketball returned to action on Wednesday night with little sign of rust. The Frogs handled Houston Baptist University (HBU) from start to finish, defeating the Huskies 69-45 in their season opener at Schollmaier Arena.
Five players seeing their first minutes in the purple and white accounted for 43 of TCU’s 69 points on the evening.
“Four guys have played before, so when you say new, it’s pretty much the whole group,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “We adjusted. I thought some guys did some really good things.”
Leading the way was true freshman Mike Miles, who showed signs of what could be quite a bright future in Fort Worth, dropping 13 points in his first-ever college action. He added game-highs of five assists and three steals to go along with his scoring total.
Listed as a four-star recruit by Rivals, Miles started in place of junior RJ Nembhard, who sat the game out for an undisclosed reason and was listed day-to-day by Dixon.
Showing no signs of a freshman learning curve, Miles got TCU going in the contest basically by himself. The Frogs started the game on a 15-0 run, with eight of those points coming from their point guard.
“Given what I know and what’s going on, I’m pretty happy with what we did, especially early defensively,” Dixon said. “I thought we did some good things offensively, but our defense in the first half, our taking away the three, our aggression in following the ball, and our contesting of shots were really good to see in the first half.”
HBU did not score until the eighth minute of the game, missing their first 12 shots.
Right behind Miles was USC transfer Chuck O’Bannon. The former McDonald’s All-American stuffed the stat sheet, putting up 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.
“Coach Dixon, he emphasizes rebounding a lot, and so coming into the game, I knew that I had to rebound and play defense,” O’Bannon said. “That’s the only way you can stay on the floor with him.”
TCU led by 22 at halftime. Though the closest the game gotafter that was 18, the Frogs only outscored the Huskies 31-29 in the second half.
“I thought we had some slippage in the second half,” Dixon said. “We have something we’re going to have to battle through in sustaining things with a large lead.”
Center Kevin Samuel was a force all night in the paint. Though he scored just six points, he grabbed ten boards and blocked three shots.
“I thought Kevin Samuel was tremendous,” Dixon said. “We’ve got to get him the ball more. Our offense wasn’t clicking like we wanted it to, but he was active, he was unselfish, and he was a great leader today.”
Kevin Easley, Taryn Todd and Mickey Pearson also combined for 19 points to round out the newcomers scoring.
This weekend, TCU will head to Kansas City to play in the Hall of Fame Classic. Their first scheduled matchup is on Saturday, Nov. 28 against Tulsa.