Forward Devonta Abron had the first double-double of his collegiate career as TCU overcame a second half deficit to down Navy 47-45 Tuesday night.
Abron, who transferred from Arkansas, scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, including three offensive boards. The closest Abron came to a double-double at Arkansas was an eight point, 16 rebounds outing against UConn.
“When I get on the court, I know there’s a job that has to be done in the paint and that’s where I come in to help my teammates,” Abron said.
Head coach Trent Johnson said Abron struggled early in the game, but he played with confidence and energy for the second straight game.
“I thought he gave us great energy in the second half at crucial times,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t necessarily scoring the ball as opposed to being active defensively.”
The Frogs trailed Navy 26-23 at halftime and the Midshipmen extended the lead to 28-23 with 18:59 left. Abron scored seven of the Frogs’ next nine points to give them a 32-30 lead at the 12:52 mark.
Navy regained a 38-35 lead, but an Abron layup and a free throw by guard Jarvis Ray tied the game up at 38. Guard Kyan Anderson gave the Frogs a 40-38 lead, but Worth Smith tied the game in a jumper.
Both teams went scoreless for two minutes until Abron scored a layup off a pass from guard Nate Butler Lind when he drove to the basket and drew three defenders.
Ray made a running layup on the next possession followed by a Garlon Green dunk off a Butler Lind miss to extend the lead to 46-40.
Forward Brandon Venturini hit a 3-pointer with 1:37 left to cut the lead to three points. Forward James Loupus stole the ball from Anderson on the next play to give the Midshipmen a chance to tie the game.
Smith missed back-to-back 3-pointers, but Brandon Venturini grabbed was left open on the block for the put back to make it a one point game with 11 seconds.
Guard Clyde Smith was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and hit one free throw to make it a 47-45 lead. Venturini’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good.
Navy had three players in double-figure scoring led by forward Worth Smith with 14. Vinturini and guard Tilman Dunbar had 12 and 10 respectively.
Abron said the Frogs knew they had to keep attacking when they got the lead late in the game.
Johnson said the Frogs were very poised during the game, particularly Butler Lind who stayed positive after every play and was “dialed in” for the second straight game. Butler Lind had four assists, four rebounds, two points and a block.
“When I look at the plays that were made, I thought a lot of it had to do with Nate,” Johnson said.
TCU has trailed during the second half of three of its four wins.The Frogs will struggle when opponents can slow them down and force them to make multiple reads, Johnson said.
Elite level teams play fast and have better players and deep benches, but the Frogs need to focus on playing at a pace where they protect the ball and make good decisions with it, Johnson said.
With the win, Johnson became the first new head coach since Mike Brumbelow in 1937 to start the season 4-1. Brumbelow started the season 6-1.
TCU will travel to South Padre Island to take on Northwestern for its third game of the South Padre Island tournament. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.