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TCU 94, SMU 83: Frogs down Mustangs in key early-season matchup

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Kenrich Williams led the Frogs to one of their more efficient shooting nights, as the Frogs improved to 9-0.

TCU Basketball vs SMU, December 5, 2017.
TCU Basketball vs SMU, December 5, 2017.
Melissa Triebwasser

Fort Worth, TX - TCU extended their nation’s longest winning streak to 14 games on Tuesday night with a 94-83 victory over cross-town rival SMU. The win snapped SMU’s five-game win streak in the series.

“It’s huge for our program, and huge moving forward,” Kenrich Williams said after the game.

TCU was led by 27 points, nine rebounds, and five assists from Williams, who was the absolute player of the game on the night. Of course, he didn’t get his almost-nightly double-double, which opened him up to some ribbing from his head coach after the contest.

“You know he didn’t get a double double tonight, so I may have to get him back in the gym,” Jamie Dixon said with a grin during his post game press conference. Though Dixon did follow that up with a stream of compliments for the senior forward.

Kenrich, of course, would speak highly of his teammates after his highlight-reel performance.

“My teammates were finding me, and I was shooting it with confidence tonight, and just getting great looks. I give all the credit to my teammates for finding me.”

The Frogs jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead, thanks to two quick three-pointers from Kenrich Williams and some prowess on the offensive glass, as TCU pulled down four offensive boards in the first five minutes of the game. The Frogs would maintain their lead for the majority of the first half, but the Mustangs wouldn’t go quietly.

After going down 15-9, SMU applied some half-court trapping, which forced a few TCU turnovers, allowing the Mustangs to keep within striking distance. A three point play with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half would cut TCU’s lead to four, 23-19.

JD Miller would make a putback layup, but SMU’s Ethan Chargois would hit a three to make it 25-22 with 7:54 remaining in the half. That was part of a 10-0 run for the Ponies that would give them a 29-25 lead. Turnovers played a key role in that stretch, as the Frogs gave the ball away several times, leading to SMU baskets.

TCU would call a timeout with 4:21 left, as Dixon tried to calm his guys down. It worked, as Kouat Noi would drill a three to give the Frogs a 30-29 lead, and then TCU would force a shot clock violation on the other end of the court. All the while, Schollmaier Arena woke up, and TCU fans got loud.

Noi and Desmond Bane would add two more threes for the Frogs, then a Bane steal leading to a breakaway layup would give TCU a 38-31 lead, forcing an SMU timeout.

SMU would respond out of their timeout with five straight points, cutting TCU’s lead to 38-36. Kouat Noi refused to let TCU fall behind again, though, hitting his third three of the half. A defensive stop led to Ahmed Hamdy getting fouled with six seconds left, and he made both free throws, pushing TCU’s lead to 43-36.

A tip in layup at the buzzer by the Mustangs made the halftime score 43-38. SMU finished the half in double-digits, while Williams led TCU with 13 points and five rebounds.

TCU would open the second half a little sloppy. Three quick turnovers led to SMU baskets, cutting TCU’s lead to as few as one point. Some strength on the offensive glass courtesy of JD Miller would Keep the Frogs in the lead, and at the under-16 timeout TCU was up 47-45.

Two SMU free throws would tie the game, but a Kenny Hustle three would break the tie with 14:29 remaining in the contest. The Frogs would pull ahead, but SMU kept creeping back with tough defense. TCU would carry a lead to the next media timeout, but at the 11:16 mark an SMU ally-oop would cut the Frogs lead to 54-53, forcing Dixon to call another timeout.

The Frogs would come out of that timeout composed. A Bane three, followed by an offensive foul on SMU, led to a strong move to the basket by Jaylen Fisher, pushing TCU’s lead to 59-53. A great defensive play by Bane would lead to another opportunity for Fisher, this time at the line, where he’d make both.

TCU started to pull away, up 63-56, when Kenrich Williams came away with a steal for the Frogs with 8:59 left in the game. Ahead of everyone, Kenrich started to go up for a shot when Ben Emelogu would tackle him from behind. Emelogu was assessed a Flagrant 1, and Hustle would make one of the two free throws. The foul incensed Frog fans, naturally, but it seemed to inspire TCU’s players.

“It got us fired up. It’s just a part of the game, it was just a hard foul. It got us fired up, so it kind of helped us a bit, in a way,” Williams said of the play.

Williams was right. Bane drilled a three pointer just moments later, sending the crowd into a frenzy, which was just compounded by a Vlad block at the other end. Fisher hit two free throws out of the media timeout to give TCU a 69-58 lead with 7:41 remaining in the game.

Following an SMU basket, Kenrich Williams drilled a three from the corner, Giving TCU its largest lead of the night to that point at 72-60. The Frogs would continue to work with a double-digit advantage with under five minutes remaining, when Ahmed Hamdy banged in a layup to put TCU up 78-65 with 4:17 remaining in the contest.

After some back and forth, SMU would work the TCU lead down to eight, 81-73, with just over two minutes remaining in the game. A basket from Jimmy Whitt would cut TCU’s lead to six, and SMU’s full court press, which they went to with about three minutes left in the game, gave TCU fits.

Fortunately, TCU continued to draw fouls and make their free throws. TCU would go 14-15 from the line in the last two minutes of the game, helping them maintain their lead.

An emphatic block from Fisher as time expired would be the exclamation point on a tremendous win for TCU.

Shake Milton did everything he could for SMU to keep it close to the end, including a dunk to cut the deficit to 89-81 with 59 seconds left, but he couldn’t get the Mustangs over the hump. Milton would finish with 18 points and nine assists in 40 minutes of play.

Five Horned Frogs would finish in double-digits on the night, led by Kenrich’s 27. Kouat Noi scored 16, Bane scored 14, Fisher scored 11 (to go with his nine assists), and Hamdy added 10.

Noi and Hamdy’s 26 points off the bench were absolutely huge, as both played critical minutes late to help put the game away. Their depth will be critical for TCU as the Frogs finish out their non-conference slate and enter Big 12 play.

The Frogs also shot 56.5% from the floor on Tuesday night, including 50% from three. SMU’s head coach, Tim Jankovich, noted that SMU’s game plan was to slow down Vlad in the middle, which opened up the Frogs for some good looks from three.

Of course, it’s one thing to get open looks. It’s another to knock them down at a 50%-clip.

TCU’s next game comes Friday night, out at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where they’ll take no No. 22 Nevada.

Check out the full postgame comments from Kenrich Williams, Ahmed Hamdy, and Jamie Dixon below.