FORT WORTH, TX - Kouat Noi got the start on Tuesday night, in place of an ill RJ Nembhard, and six Frogs in double-figures led the Horned Frogs to their biggest margin of victory in conference play since joining the Big 12 in 2012. Nembhard had a fever above 102 on Sunday, according to Jamie Dixon, and still didn’t feel well enough to go on Tuesday evening.
Dixon expects Nembhard back for Saturday’s game at Kansas State.
Meanwhile, Desmond Bane finished with 26 points to lead all scorers. He once again showed his ability to take over a game, both in the half-court and in transition, shooting 11-18 from the floor. Alex Robinson added a double double with 14 points and 10 assists, JD Miller added 13 points, Lat Mayen and Kouat Noi both scored 12, and Kevin Samuel notched 10 points and nine rebounds prior to fouling out.
After the game, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said TCU’s offense was just too much.
“They played great, they have a great point guard. Jamie does a great job spacing. They made shots, we didn’t. But we haven’t, so I don’t know why we expect to.”
West Virginia shot just 38.3% from the floor and a paltry 16.7% from three-point range in the loss, and fell to 8-9 on the season. The Mountaineers have yet to win a game in Big 12 play, currently sitting at 0-5. They host Kansas on Saturday.
TCU started 1-7 from the floor on Tuesday night, getting behind 5-2 early before going on a 19-2 run over the course of the next eight-ish minutes of game time to go up 21-7. TCU never looked back from that point on. The Frogs opened up a 48-28 halftime lead, led by ten points from Robinson and nine from Bane.
Defensively, TCU stifled anything West Virginia wanted to do. The Frogs recorded six steals in the first half, while the Mountaineers turned it over 12 times.
While Noi started in Nembhard’s stead on Tuesday night, Lat Mayen also saw significant playing time, and he flashed what he’s capable of when healthy. Mayen scored 12 points and pulled down six rebounds and had two steals and a block. Jamie Dixon was pumped for him after the game.
“Gosh. I’m so happy for him. The things he’s gone through with the surgeries and the knee, and then the bone bruise in addition to that, and watching him struggle to play and practice and him never saying a word and just keep going.” Dixon said. “Yesterday he told me he was 100% and I said ‘well you’re playing’.”
Mayen’s injury resume is quite long, and seeing him come back after meniscus surgery on his left knee is a fun story. It seems as if he can play a significant role for this team as a 3 and D guy. He knocked down three of six attempts from deep on Tuesday night, and was a force defensively.
After a dominant first half TCU continued to pour it on in the second. The Frogs opened the half on a 13-4 run, extending their lead to 61-32 at the 16:20 mark of the half and the rout was truly on.
West Virginia never got closer than 25 points the rest of the way.
Probably the best part of the evening, other than the total domination, was seeing Owen Aschieris, placed on scholarship Monday, scoring is first career points on Tuesday night. He entered the game with four minutes remaining, and knocked down four free throws after two technical fouls on West Virginia.
Aschieris was available to the media after the game, and he talked about his whirlwind 24 hours.
“It’s really hard to describe. So much work went into this, it’s been a crazy journey going from high school not recruited at all to the women’s team, to walking on. There have been so many people behind me too that have helped me so much. Just to get that scholarship was crazy.”
When he says the women’s team, Aschieris was helping run scout team for the TCU women’s basketball team, when head coach Reagan Pebley pointed him out to Jamie Dixon.
“Reagan told me about him,” Dixon said after the game. “Usually you know about walk ons when they’re coming...I don’t quite understand how he ended up here. We were very surprised at how good he was. I don’t know that you’ve seen how good he is by the games he’s gotten into. That’s why he got to play a pretty good stretch there, I want him to play like he practices rather than take that quick first shot which is not normally a shot he would take.”
The Frogs move to 13-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big 12 play, and now they head to Manhattan, Kansas for a Saturday matchup against Kansas State.