It looked like it might be a back and forth affair early for TCU Saturday night at Schollmaier Arena, as a 2-0 lead quickly turned into a 12-6 deficit. But the Frogs would claw back to take the lead at 13-12 and never looked back. Against a team that didn’t have the size, strength, or depth to keep up, the Frogs managed to pull away by mid-way through the first half, taking a double-digit lead into the break and pouring it on late for a 92-66 final score, the latest victory in an 8-0 start. TCU has won a nation’s-best 13 straight games dating back to last season.
TCU got a big lift from Alex Robinson, who was finally back to his old self after struggling through a foot injury that cost him a game and had him playing well below his norm for several more. But Robinson came out hot Saturday night, lighting up the scoreboard for 13 first half points and dishing out three early assists while remaining turnover free. Kenrich Williams was out there doing Kenny Hustle things on his birthday, putting up five points, pulling down five rebounds, with a pair of assists and a pair of steals through the first twenty minutes. Ahmed Hamdy made his presence felt as well, as he dominated the paint to the tune of eight easy ones, including a big dunk while being fouled. He also added three rebounds, and his impact was needed as Vladimir Brodziansky had a very quiet first half (two points, two rebounds).
Continuing their hot finish from the first half, the Frogs put away Yale early in the second, pulling away for a 20 point lead by the time the game hit the under-16. Desmond Bane picked up right where he left off, draining three treys in short succession and getting fouled on a fourth - hitting all three free throws to complete the play. It wasn’t all good for TCU, though, as they had a scary moment deep into the half when Alex Robinson went down awkwardly, grabbing his ankle in pain. He left the court briefly but returned after a few minutes and was able to return to the game. Robinson finished with 13 points in 19 minutes, adding five assists, and going turnover free. It was unfortunate to see him get banged up again, just when he was starting to get healthy, but according to Coach Dixon postgame, they don’t expect him to miss any action going forward.
Desmond Bane was the leading scorer for TCU with 18 points on a night where six Frogs hit double digits. After the game, Coach Dixon mentioned that instead of practicing Thursday, he sat down with Fisher and Robinson to watch film and work on some specific things - primarily dribble penetration and turnovers - and the time appeared well spent. The two combined for 30 points, 12 assists, and just one turnover, on a night where the Frogs had just nine turnovers as a team compared to 14 for Yale. TCU out-rebounded the Bulldogs 33-29, dominated the paint 48-28, and doubled up the bench production 29-13. The Frogs led every key statistical category except for free throw shooting, but on a night where only 22 total were shot, it didn’t matter. Every starter shot 50% or better, and Ahmed Hamdy came up big with 12 points on 6-8 shooting off the bench. Yale was led by Miye Oni’s 18, Alex Copeland’s 16, and Paul Atkinson’s 15. The Bulldogs, who are expected to finish at or near the top of the Ivy League, played tough, but didn’t have enough to overcome a TCU team that was really cooking down the stretch.
The Frogs will face their biggest challenge of the young season when they welcome the SMU Mustangs to town Tuesday night for an 8:00pm tip-off. The Ponies were 6-2 heading into their Saturday evening tilt with USC, with a win over Arizona but losses to Western Kentucky and Northern Iowa. It’s a big RPI/Ken Pom game for TCU, according to Dixon, and a good resume builder for their postseason stat sheet.