TCU would survive Belmont’s best shot in the second half, en route to an 87-76 victory on Wednesday night. It was TCU’s first game as a ranked team since 2014, and Dixon said the Frogs handled it well.
“For us it’s big, there’s no question. It’s another step, another obstacle, because you can’t rest on it, you’ve got to get through it and get better because of it,” Dixon said, “But it’s good for us.”
TCU jumped out to an early 15-6 lead at the under-16 mark, led by some sharpshooting from Vladmir Brodziansky, who scored 11 points and went 3-3 from deep in the first five minutes of the contest.
A 14-0 run would help TCU extend their lead at about the 11-minute mark of the first half. Some dominant defense, great transition basketball, solid rebounding, and #buckets would help TCU pull out to a 33-14 lead. While Belmont would eventually score again, the first half was never close again, as TCU took a 42-31 lead into the half, despite Belmont finish the half on a 13-3 run.
Vlad would enter the locker room with 17 points for the Frogs, shooting 6-7 from the floor and 4-4 from three-point range. JD Miller did major work towards a double-double in the first half, taking nine points and six rebounds into halftime.
Belmont’s opening basket of the second half would cut TCU’s lead to nine, but the Frogs would quickly get back to double-digits with a layup from Kenrich Williams, followed by a breakaway dunk from JD Miller. The Frogs would extend their lead with more great offense, led by excellent passing from Fisher, as the Frogs pulled ahead 55-37 with about 15 minutes remaining in the game.
A three-pointer from Kouat Noi would give the Frogs a 63-46 lead with 12:07 left in the game, but Belmont would respond with a 7-2 run, forcing Jamie Dixon to call a timeout with 10:24 remaining.
Belmont would continue to force the issue, locking down on defense and making good decisions offensively. With about 9:36 remainig in the game Amanze Egekeze would make a layup to cut TCU’s lead to nine, at 67-58.
TCU would take a 13-point lead into the under-8 timeout, 71-58, and they switched to a 1-3-1 defense out of the timeout.
For the majority of the second half, Belmont showed how good they can be, and flashed the shooting prowess that helped them knock off Vanderbilt earlier in the season. Almost 15 minutes into the second half, they were shooting 12-20 from the floor, and 7-14 from three-point range. It helped them pull back to within 10, at 74-64.
Fortunately, Belmont would cool off from about the 7-minute mark to the under-4 timeout, and TCU would push their lead back to 13 with 3:50 left in the contest. It would be hard fought to the end, though.
Belmont would hit a three with 1:50 left in the game to cut TCU’s lead to seven, at 77-70. A Vlad dunk would extend TCU’s lead back to nine, and then some tough defense and good rebounding helped TCU put it away.
Desmond Bane flashed the kind of force he can be late in the game, going 6-6 from the free throw line in the final minute, with an emphatic dunk to seal TCU’s victory. He finished the night with 12 points in 31 minutes.
Vlad would finish the game with 22 points, one off his season high of 23, and six off his career high of 28, on 8-11 shooting, including 5-6 from deep. “My teammates trust me a lot to shoot them, so I don’t really think about them, I just shoot them,” Vlad said about his range after the game.
JD Miller also commented on Vlad’s range, “When Vlad’s hitting threes like that, we’re going to do good throughout the game.”
Kenrich Williams recorded his fourth double-double of the season, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and JD Miller would approach double-double territory with 16 points and eight boards.
Jamie Dixon spoke after the game about the need to get Bane more shots, after he put up just four on the night. “If you look at his percentages for the season, they’re ridiculous,” said Dixon, and he’s absolutely right. Bane is shooting 72.1% from the floor, and 62.5% from three point range, on the season.
Dylan Windler led all Belmont scorers with 17 points, and he was joined in double-digits by Kevin McClain and Amanze Egekeze, both of whom scored 15 points.
TCU moved to 7-0 on the season, while Belmont fell to 4-4. The Frogs next host Yale on Saturday, December 2nd, at 7:00 pm.
Check out the full postgame comments from Vlad, Miller, and Coach Dixon below.