Mike Miles led the way for TCU with 22 points on the night, and Texas A&M transfer Emanuel Miller posted a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double as TCU defeated McNeese 77-61 on Thursday night.
TCU shot just 35% from the floor for the game, including 33.3% from three, but made up for it by making 71% from the free throw line, a focal point of the offseason and vast improvement, at least through one game. TCU shot just 67% from the charity stripe as a team in 2020-21.
“We’ve been working on that a lot, and we’ve seen improvement, and it’s good to see. We’ve got some big guys that I think will get fouled some, Eddie being one of them, and we’ve got to keep working on that,” said Jamie Dixon.
Dixon’s crew saw an incredible amount of turnover in the offseason, watching RJ Nembhard go to the NBA while eight other players left the program. Meanwhile, eight new faces landed in Fort Dixon, and TCU’s head coach has had his work cut out for him, figuring out rotations, learning each player’s strength, etc.
Mike Miles spoke about the team chemistry afterward, saying, “It’s been great, getting to know all of them. It didn’t take long. It was easy. We all like each other, we all make jokes, we all hang out. It wasn’t hard. It’s new, a lot of new people, almost a whole team, but once we got here I think June, July, it wasn’t hard. We all came together. We all clicked real quick.”
TCU was sluggish early on offense, with five turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game, and the scoreboard reflected it. TCU trailed 17-14 with 11:13 remaining in the first half, as 11 Horned Frogs saw the court and Dixon was clearly looking for rotations that had good chemistry.
“The last couple days we went with the starters against the second group, I guess you could call our guys, and it’s been very even,” Dixon mentioned after the game, “and it’s been even throughout June to now.
“Damion seems to be on the team that’s won the most,” Dixon continued, “That’s the thing that stood out to us. He’s been consistently that guy, but that hasn’t happened the last couple days. We see there isn’t much separation with these guys, but, you know, when the lights came on, you saw some different things, and that’s what we have to see, and work with, and grow with. This is our starting point, and in no way did I think we’d be great tonight. I thought we’d be better, but we weren’t, so we’ll get to work on it.”
The Frogs started clicking at around the eight minute mark of the first half, going on an extended 22-7 run to end the half. The run was sparked by big three pointers from Baugh and Miles, who led the team in scoring at halftime with 12 and six points, respectively.
Early in the second half, Damion Baugh went up for an offensive rebound and came down holding his left foot. He went to the bench and spoke to a trainer before heading back to the TCU locker room. He didn’t return to the game.
“I think his ankle,” Dixon said afterward, “I saw him there and he said ankle, so I’m sure he did an XRay, and we’ll figure it out from there. I don’t think he’s missed a practice all year and then [he gets] hurt in the first game.”
Just moments later Mike Miles scored on a fast break and came up hobbling, stumbling all the way around the TCU bench and behind the scorers table, favoring his left leg. He also went back to the TCU locker room, but returned just a few minutes later.
“I got a cramp in my calf muscle,” Miles said afterward, “It was the first game, I’ve got to get used to playing at this speed. But, I’m good.”
TCU maintained a double-digit lead for the first ten minutes of the second half, in spite of the injuries to Miles and Baugh. Emanuel Miller stepped up in a big way, while Farabello and Peavy also contributed to the scoring frenzy, and TCU pulled out to a 60-46 lead with 9:32 remaining in the game.
The Frogs held that lead, growing it to as many as 21, with excellent ball movement, swarming defense, and a solid first performance of the season.
TCU hosts Southern Miss on Monday, November 15th, at 7:00pm for their next game.
Watch the full postgame press conference below: