Coming off a 76-73 thriller in South Padre, Tex., against the UAB Blazers, the TCU Horned Frog basketball team improved to 6-2 in a 61-52 home win against Southern Utah (1-5).
Sophomore guard Kyan Anderson had a team-high 21 points and 6 assists in the win and forward Devonta Abron added 17 points of his own, 11 of those coming in the second half.
“I just go with the flow on offense,” Abron said.
TCU’s defense held forward Jackson Stevenett, who was previously leading his team in scoring with 16.3 points per game, to only 1 point and 0-for-10 shooting for the game.
“We knew he was the head of the team so we knew what we had to do was just chop off the head,” Abron said.
Coach Johnson praised Thomas Montigel after the game for his defense of Stevenett. Montigel made his first career start for TCU in place of the injured Nate Butler. He finished the game with 5 points.
“Thomas did a heck of a job,” Johnson said. “He’s a smart kid. He understands what we’re doing.”
Despite getting beaten on the boards 36-29, the Frogs led for the majority of the game and held the Thunderbirds to only 32.7 percent shooting. Despite the stout defensive effort, Johnson was not satisfied with his team’s overall performance.
“I thought there were times tonight that we got a little too cute and careless with the ball.” Johnson said. “We got outrebounded at home. That disturbed me. That bothered me and I think it bothers them.”
Southern Utah guard Damon Heuir took over the scoring load for the struggling Stevenett, finishing with a game-high 25 points.
“I should’ve switched Thomas and put him on Damon,” Johnson said.
The Frogs and Thunderbirds traded scores towards the beginning of the first half.
The first big run of the game came with 8:55 left in the first half. TCU was up 18-17 and then went on a 9-3 run, which included a chase down block by freshman Charles Hill Jr.
The Thunderbirds made a run of their own late in the half to cut the lead to only 3 going into halftime.
In the second half, TCU again struggled to maintain a solid lead and, after a 3-point shot foul by Garlon Green, Heuir hit 2-of-3 from the line to give the Thunderbirds a 1-point lead with 10:50 left in the second half.
Abron quickly responded with a layup and then the Frogs went on a 6-0 run, capped by an Adrick McKinney jumper. This brought the lead to 7 with 7:10 left in the game. McKinney finished with 7 points and a team-high 7 rebounds
With 31.5 seconds left in the game, TCU led 59-51. Anderson hit two free throws to bring that lead up to 10.
Heuir would be fouled on the ensuing possession and go 1-for-2 on his free throw attempts. He finished the game hitting 9-of-12 free throws.
Kyan Anderson would then dribble out the clock and the Frogs sealed the nine-point victory.
“It’s nice to win,” Johnson said. “We didn’t compete as hard as we should’ve competed.”
The Frogs will finish their two-game homestand against the Houston Cougars on Tuesday. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.