FORT WORTH, TX - Desmond Bane led all scorers with 23 points, while Alex Robinson and Kevin Samuel both contributed double-doubles, as TCU defeated Fresno State 77-69 on Thursday night.
“You see our point guard had 14 assists so the ball is moving, the ball is moving everywhere,” Bane said about the performance afterward, “We just have a really unselfish team, young guys, and they’ve been able to hit me in spots where I feel like I’m capable of scoring these last two games.”
Robinson dished out 14 assists, and added 13 points to the mix as well, as he guided the Frogs to a 3-0 record as one of the few experienced players on the team.
“I just wanted to make sure we kept our intensity up. That’s been our problem the last two games was not keeping our intensity up the whole half, so that was a big thing for us this game.”
The intensity was there, and TCU needed all of it, as Fresno State gave the Frogs everything they could handle for most of the night. The Bulldogs fell to 1-1, but they’ll be a good non-conference win for TCU. They’re currently 108th in the KenPom rankings, but should move up once they get to Mountain West play.
“That was a good team, a senior dominated team, I think their juniors are even redshirts,” Jamie Dixon said after the game.
“That’s not a team you want to play early with our three returning college players, but that’s what we chose to do and we did it. So a good win for us, they’ll be a high RPI team, they’ll be at the top of the Mountain West, so we got what we wanted from that.”
Kevin Samuel’s second double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) might have been overshadowed by another stat column. The redshirt freshman recorded six blocks, most for a Horned Frog since Marlon Dumont recorded six blocks against Southern Miss in 2002. When asked if he was starting to feel comfortable on the court, he said, “Just a little bit.”
Dixon noted that Samuel has improved tremendously since starting practice with the team in January, and frankly, Samuel still looks like he could fill out quite a bit more.
TCU jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes, thanks to six points from Alex Robinson. Fresno State climbed back into things after a timeout, using an 8-0 run to tie the game at 10.
Lat Mayen recorded his first points of the season shortly after Fresno State tied the game, getting to the basket in traffic. Mayen sat out against Oral Roberts after playing just six minutes against Cal State Bakersfield.
Both offenses would screech to a halt after the run from Fresno State, and sloppy play by both teams was in full display. TCU took a 17-15 lead into the under-8 timeout, after which an RJ Nembhard three pushed TCU’s lead to five.
The Frogs offense continued to struggle throughout the half, and TCU headed into the locker room shooting just 35% from the floor, and 33.3% from deep. Fresno State held a 31-29 lead, despite shooting just 33.3% from the floor. TCU finished the half with eight turnovers, three from Alex Robinson, that hurt them.
TCU looked like they pulled it together in the second half, opening on a 7-2 run to reclaim the lead. Desmond Bane capped the run with a three, making the score 36-33. The Frogs continued to pour it in during the second half, as they scored 48 in the final frame.
Ball movement was key, and leadership from the upperclassmen benefited the Frogs in the end.
Alex Robinson and Desmond Bane would continue to lead the way for the Frogs, and JD Miller started to get into the mix. With 12:57 left, after five straight points from MIller, Alex Robinson hit Bane on a fast break and Bane flushed it, giving TCU a 52-40 lead.
Fresno State continued to keep things close, and they clawed back to a 54-49 deficit with just under ten minutes remaining in the game. A three from Bane and basket from Nembhard pushed TCU’s lead back to ten, and TCU’s lead would hover around 10 points for pretty much the remainder of the game.
The Frogs held on to the lead through the end of the game, winning 77-69 to move to 3-0.
TCU’s next game comes on Tuesday, against Lipscomb - a 2017 NCAA Tournament team.