TCU dominated the Golden Eagles Sunday afternoon on their way to a 79-62 win, dunking all over an overmatched Oral Roberts team (seven times!) as they led from tip to buzzer. After jumping out to an early double digit lead, the Frogs’ offense slowed a bit, but ORU never got closer than seven points in the second half before TCU pulled away for good at the 15 minute mark.
The two key cogs got going early Sunday, as Alex Robinson and Desmond Bane were aggressive from the opening tip in looking to score. Robinson finished his night with 23 points, including a 4-6 effort from behind the arc, to lead all scorers, while Bane dropped 15 in the second stanza and finished with 22. TCU also got a double digit effort from JD Miller (11) and a double-double from redshirt freshman Kevin Samuel (11 points and 11 rebounds), though only six Frogs scored on the night. It was a much better effort from the young guys though, as the two true freshmen - Kaden Archie and Kendric Davis - looked far more comfortable in their second games. Archie had four points and four rebounds, while Davis six and six. The Frogs had 22 assists on the night - JD Miller led the way with seven, Bane added five, and Robinson and Samuel added three each.
TCU got off to a quick start, especially on the offensive end, but stagnated at points in both halves - something Dixon blames on having to play lineups in the games that they aren’t practicing with. Injuries and other circumstances have led to that, but while all the young players figure things out, his returning leaders have stepped up. “We’re really comfortable with them, they’re really comfortable with us, but they’re the most comfortable with each other.” And while Robinson, Bane, and Miller understand the game, the rest of the guys getting minutes need to be patient. “We will score, just let it happen. That’s what the young guys have to find out.” Robinson understands as well, and has made it a point to be more vocal with this group of guys than he has been in the past. “Keeping the guys locked in, making sure we stay on task, stay unselfish, play hard. College basketball is a lot different than high school, and we have a lot of new guys. We have to make sure we stay focused.”
Coach Dixon has been focused on his big guys - the position with the most turnover on the team. With three inside players getting their first collegiate action, there is plenty of room for growth - but, there’s also plenty of reason for excitement, at least from what he is seeing so far. “The work ethic has been tremendous [amongst the bigs]. They are fun to work with because they work hard and you can see the improvement. Kevin [Samuel] was ready to play last year, but benefited from redshirting. We hope to redshirt Russell [Barlow] this year, depending on depth. I am really excited about Kevin, Yuat, and Angus. We have three really good fives.”
The Frogs defense was good as well, holding ORU to 37% shooting and just 5-21 from three. They forced 13 turnovers - though they turned it over 16 times themselves - and dominated the paint - out-rebounding the Golden Eagles 42-33 and 32-22 defensively. TCU scored more than half their points in the paint and led the game for all but 13 seconds of play.
TCU is back in action Thursday night to face their biggest challenge so far, welcoming Fresno State to Fort Worth. The Frogs will need another big game from their big guys and their backcourt to fend off an explosive Bulldogs team.