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TCU 65, Air Force 54: Kevin Slam-uel leads Frogs to victory in slugfest with former Mountain West foe

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The third straight double double for Samuel led the Frogs to a 3-0 record.

TCU Basketball vs Air Force (Fort Worth, TX) 11.18.19
RJ Nembhard celebrates after a big dunk in the closing moments of Monday night’s win over Air Force.
Melissa Triebwasser

Fort Worth, TX - Desmond Bane had a rough shooting night, going just 2-11 from the floor, but he was still just beyond sight of the media on Monday night after TCU’s 65-54 win over Air Force.

As Francisco Farabello, Jaedon LeDee, and Kevin Samuel left the media room, Bane’s voice could be heard celebrating Farabello’s first appearance to the media.

Farabello was one of several Frogs who stepped up in the midst of Bane’s struggles, scoring 11 points and dishing out five assists in 31 minutes of game time.

The star of the night, though, was Samuel, who finished with his third double double in as many games this season - the first Frog to complete such a feat in 29 years. His 19 points, most of which came on ally oops, was a game high, as were his 11 rebounds.

RJ Nembhard also stepped up for the Frogs, adding 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals and running the offense in the waning minutes of a game that was much closer than most anticipated.

For the most part it was a streaky first half, with both teams starting 4-13 from the floor. TCU forced Air Force into eleven first half turnovers, while turning it over just six times themselves.

An early 9-0 run helped TCU out to an 11-5 lead, but as would be a running theme, Air Force didn’t go away.

Quick baskets for the Falcons cut TCU’s lead to 11-10, and every time the Frogs reached about a 10-12 point lead, Air Force would quickly pull the Frogs back to within striking distance.

With both teams struggling at times throughout the half, the Frogs held a 29-17 lead at the 3:38 mark of the half.

Fireworks went off in the final minute, though, as TCU started to open things up thanks to some salty defense and rebounding.

After a missed TCU basket, several players, including Bane, went to the court to try and recover the ball. Bane managed to scoop it to Nembhard, who immediately lobbed a pass to the rim, where Big Kev threw it down.

Nembhard promptly stole the ball, and lobbed another ally oop to Samuel, whose finish brought the TCU fans in attendance to their feet.

But RJ wasn’t done. He stole another pass, his third steal of the half, and this time took it himself all the way to the rim for a basket.

TCU looked primed at that point to take a 39-25 lead into the break with just seconds remaining, but a half-court heave from Caleb Morris splashed home for Air Force, to make it 39-28 at halftime.

The Frogs opened the second half looking to pull away from Air Force for good, but the first five minutes saw the Falcons hanging around. A 7-0 spurt forced Jamie Dixon to call a timeout at the 15:03 mark, with TCU leading 48-41.

Things didn’t get better for the Frogs for about 11 minutes of game time, as they saw their once double-digit lead evaporate.

The Frogs experienced more than five scoreless minutes of game time from the 16:46 mark of the second half down to the 11:26 mark, and they scored just six points in a 10-minute stretch, as Air Force climbed all the way back to within one at 52-51.

TCU never gave up the lead, though, as Nembhard and Farabello rattled off nine points for the Frogs to extend their lead to 61-51 with 3:38 remaining in the game.

A three point shot from Sid Tomes would be the final points of the night for Air Force, and TCU sealed the game with late free throws from Bane and Nembhard.

TCU moves to 3-0 on the season, and they prepare to host UC Irvine on Thursday night at 7pm at the Schollmeier.

Check out the full postgame comments below: