Desmond Bane came out on fire for the Horned Frogs Monday night in Fort Worth, connecting on 5-8 three pointers on his way to a 19 point first half. His hot-shooting was contagious, as the team as a whole drained 16 of 29 attempts after struggling from deep in the season opener last Friday night. Bane would finish as the high scorer on the night despite not playing much at all in the second half, as he went for 24 on 9-13 shooting and 6-10 from deep. He added five rebounds and four assists in a complete performance, arguably his best as a Frog.
It was a different team in game number two; without the distraction of a pregame NIT ceremony or opening night jitters, TCU was active on both ends of the floor, disrupting the timing of the Golden Eagles offense while slicing and dicing their D. Bane’s offensive output really stretched the floor for the Frogs, who played unselfishly as a whole, making the extra pass as the racked up 23 assists on 35 made buckets. The chemistry between the returning players, especially Jaylen Fisher - who looked much more comfortable in game number two - and Desmond Bane is apparent, and guys like Ahmed Hamdy are starting to fight their fit as well. When the rotation guys, especially Shawn Olden and Kouat Noi start to figure it out, this offense will really click.
Hamdy had a really nice game as well, showcasing a tough defensive mindset and soft hands on offense. He finished with 4 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes on the night. JD Miller also made his presence felt with a big game, to the tune of 17 points and 9 boards. TCU finished with 5 players in double digits on the evening, including Vlad and Fish 11, and Noi’s 10. Robinson poured in another nine as well.
The defensive effort as a whole was much improved from the opener; the Frogs turned to a 1-2-2 half court trap early, and it really bothered the Golden Eagles, forcing 17 turnovers. TCU out-rebounded Tennessee Tech 37-27, scored 25 points off of the 17 turnovers, and held TT to 41% shooting. Meanwhile, the Frogs tickled the twine to a 63% shooting night as a team, including the 55% from deep but were just 14-24 from the free throw line. Kenrich Williams had a quiet night, but it was of no matter, as the Frogs controlled this one basically from the opening tip on. He finished with five points and three rebounds, but hardly played in the second half as Dixon went deep into his bench and he picked up his fourth foul.
10 different Frogs scored in the game, and most of the starters were off the floor by the ten minute mark of the second half. Dalton Dry had a nice run in garbage time, igniting the crowd every time he touched the ball and pouring in six points on a series of shots, drives, and free throws. Freshman RJ Nembhard got some good run as well, and while he looked every bit a rookie, he gained valuable experience and flashed his handle and speed. He also had a highlight play as he came knifing in on a missed three with a thunderous put back slam, and broke the century mark with a free throw with under a minute to play.
It was a dominating effort from start to finish from the Frogs, who looked confident and in control on both ends of the floor. Getting big time contributions from guys like Miller and Bane on a night when Hustle and Robinson weren’t their usual selves - and with a quick turnaround, it was good that they didn’t need to be.
Coach Dixon was much happier with the performance in his team’s encore effort, praising their hustle on the defense end and unselfishness on offense. He credited a couple of solid practices, as well as a few different shooting drills, for the difference in play, and felt good about his team overall. Now they will have a chance to string together two consecutive good performances with a quick turnaround before Wednesday’s game against South Dakota.
You can hear Bane and Miller’s postgame comments below:
The Frogs will be back in action, at home Wednesday night for an 8:00pm tip against South Dakota, as they look to get to 3-0 on the season.