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TCU 81, Illinois State 69: Frogs move to 6-1, powered by Bane, Grayer

The Frogs overcame a major second half scoring drought to pull away with a win.

RJ Nembhard lays in two of his ten points against Illinois State Tuesday night in Fort Worth.
Melissa Triebwasser

Fort Worth, TX - TCU survived a pesky Illinois State squad on Tuesday night, 81-69, to move to 6-1 on the young season.

Desmond Bane led all scorers with 23 points, along with nine rebounds and five assists (all team-leading stats) as the senior hit nine of 14 baskets from the floor. Jaire Grayer and Kevin Samuel both added 15 points of their own, with Samuel also pulling down eight rebounds on the night.

Zach Copeland led the way for the Redbirds, pouring in 19 points, including 5-of-8 from deep, helping keep Illinois State within striking distance every time TCU looked to pull away.

Copeland got support from Antonio Reeves and DJ Horne, but fouled out with just over a minute left, pretty much dashing any last hopes of an upset.

The Frogs did good work on the glass, out-rebounding Illinois State 39-30, and pulling down 13 offensive boards for 18 second-chance points.

TCU tripped out of the gate on Tuesday night, falling down 7-0 to Illinois State in the first two minutes of the game. No rebounding effort and a disjointed offense led to the deficit, but Desmond Bane helped the Frogs erase it as quickly as Illinois State built it.

Six points from Bane sandwiched a Diante Smith three-point shot to give the Frogs a 9-7 lead. A three from Jaycee Hillman briefly reclaimed the lead for the Redbirds, but Smith drilled another corner three for TCU, giving the Frogs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the half.

TCU built a lead as big as ten points in the first half, largely due to their work on the offensive glass. The Frogs pulled down nine offensive rebounds in the frame. Smith, Kevin Samuel and Jaedon LeDee were a big reason for this, as they tracked down six offensive rebounds between the three of them.

Illinois State refused to go away, despite consistently being behind. Every time the Frogs started to stretch the lead the Redbirds hit a big basket to close the gap a bit.

A Desmond Bane drive the rim with ten seconds left in the half gave the Frogs a 39-32 halftime lead.

TCU tried to pull away in the second half, using back to back Jaire Grayer threes to take a 52-39 lead. But, somewhat reminiscent of the Clemson game, TCU saw an extended stretch where the offense went dormant.

The Frogs scored just seven points over the course of eight minutes in the second half, as Illinois State went on a 20-7 run to pull even at 59, with 9:12 remaining in the game, forcing TCU to use a timeout.

Jaire Grayer drilled a three out of the timeout to reclaim the lead for the Frogs with 8:45 left in the game, and then TCU followed it up with stout defense to force a shot clock violation.

Strong offensive rebounding and hustle defense helped TCU out over the next four minutes, and the Frogs worked out to a 68-60 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the contest.

Illinois State had one more gasp of breath, and with 3:27 left in the contest Keith Fisher hit a basket and got the foul on Francisco Farabello to pull the Redbirds within eight, at 72-64.

RJ Nembhard and Desmond Bane seems determined to keep the Frogs from faltering late, too. Nembhard scored consecutive baskets for the Frogs, after which Bane completed an and-1, and the Frogs took a commanding 77-65 lead with 2:27 left in the game.

TCU locked down for the final few minutes, winning by a score of 81-69.

Now the Frogs prepare to head to a different arena in Fort Worth, as they host USC Friday night at Dickie’s Arena. It’s the first game played in the new Fort Worth stadium. TCU traveled to Los Angeles early in the 2018-19 campaign and absolutely throttled the Trojans, 96-61.

USC carries a 7-2 record into the contest, with two losses coming against Temple (70-61) and Marquette (101-79).

Check out the full postgame interviews below: