TCU pulled down 53 rebounds on Monday night, an effort at the heart of their 83-51 victory over Southern Miss as the Frogs improved to 2-0 on the season.
Leading the rebounding charge was Emanuel Miller, who for the second consecutive game recorded a 12-point, 13-rebound, 2 steal, 1 block performance. Miller spoke confidently about TCU’s ability to clean glass after the game.
“I think with the size we have, our athleticism. I think we could be one of the most dominant teams on the boards in the country,” Miller said. “We have the guys to do it, the coaching staff that puts us in the position to do so. I think we are going to be good.”
That’s a significant departure from past TCU squads who struggled to put up good numbers on the boards. It’s the sign of a more focused group, and more cohesive unit, than in years past.
“We’re a lot better, I feel like this team is more focused, more focused on the main goal, and that’s winning,” Miles said after Monday’s win.
“Last year was kind of a tricky situation. I don’t think we really bonded as a team, and it showed in our record. This year, that’s really the main thing we’re trying to do is build chemistry, and we’ve been doing that and we got better from when we first got here to now, and we got better from last game to this game, so it’s going to build.”
COVID was certainly a tricky situation, as TCU struggled to even field a full squad for practice throughout the year.
“Last year, we didn’t practice a lot before the first game,” Miles said, “I think we only had one practice. We never had a full practice with everybody there last year. That was the main thing. We didn’t have everybody in practice, so that was it.”
The lack of chemistry certainly doesn’t seem to be an issue through two games in 2021.
TCU’s first half started similarly to Game 1, with defense fueling things while the offense took time to get going. Five quick points from Mike Miles paced the team as the rest of the guys got their sea legs, but once the scoring started it didn’t stop.
TCU saw nine players score points in the first half as they quickly outpaced Southern Miss, shooting 52.9% from the floor, and playing fast in transition.
Back to back threes from Micah Peavy and Francisco Farabello pushed the Frogs’ lead to 22-11 with 10:02 time left in the half, forcing Southern Miss to call a timeout. TCU continued to gain momentum out of the break, pushing their lead all the way to 16 points, 40-24, thanks to a burst from Shahada Wells and more solid defense.
In fact, Southern Miss only had one made basket in the last 5:38 of the first half.
“Defensively we were pretty good.” Dixon said. “I feel like we can be better. Some of the stats, the goals we have, are hard to reach no matter the game or the opponent. We rebounded obviously at a very high clip, we got deflections, we contested the three. We guarded that, that was good to see.”
TCU continued their hot stretch into the second half, with Mike Miles stealing the ball and breaking away for a layup to push TCU’s lead to 20, 46-26.
The Frogs maintained an 18-22 point lead for the bulk of the second half, even when the offense struggled for about three solid minutes to execute. An energetic Miller, coupled with contributions from Xavier Cork and JaKobe Coles helped stretch TCU’s lead out to as many as 34 before the final buzzer sounded.
TCU’s next game comes at home against Nicholls, Thursday at 7pm.