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TCU men’s basketball scores nonconference wins over Jackson State, SMU

The Horned Frogs found themselves back in the Top 25 rankings and headed down the non-conference game home stretch.

This week, the Frogs earned their spot back in the national rankings and looked to continue to find their rhythm even without a full squad consistently available. TCU faced Jackson State on Tuesday evening, then squared off with SMU in the basketball edition of the Iron Skillet at Dickie’s Arena, just a short drive up University from campus. Let’s recap how the Frogs looked as they work their way through the back end of the non-conference schedule before conference play kicks off on New Year’s Eve.

TCU 78, Jackson State 51

The Frogs took on Jackson State at the Scholly on Tuesday evening, sans Mike Miles. No Miles, no issue however, as the team cruised past a 1-6 opponent from a mid-level conference. Jakoby Coles led the way for the Frogs posting a 21 point, 7 rebound stat line, and three other Frogs posted double-digit scoring evenings (O’Bannon with 11, Shahada Wells with 14, and Baugh with 15).

Clearly overmatching Jackson State on the defensive end, TCU held the Tigers to sub-30% shooting nights from the field and from deep. Other than the Tigers’ Coltie Young’s four three-pointer night and 14 total points, Jackson State struggled to get anything going, as they notched nearly 30 turnovers in the game as well. Meanwhile, the Frogs still left some to be desired on the offensive end, shooting 6-23 from deep, showcasing the continued struggles for the entire team from beyond the arc.

All in all, the Frogs came in, clamped down on defense and cruised through a game against a team they should have won against—which sound blasé today but we’ve seen this team struggle with other “on paper” easy matchups.

TCU 83, SMU 75

In an often-entertaining matchup against SMU (losers of three straight heading into Saturday night) at TCU’s third annual visit to Dickie’s in the non-conference early schedule, TCU again let defense set the tone and held off a more competitive team that has hit a string of bad luck more than anything the past few games. TCU also had their full lineup available this time around, and Miles led the way with 18 points on 50% shooting from the field.

Five total Horned Frogs had double digits in scoring, but Eddie Lampkin and Damien Baugh were the other highlights of the game. Lampkin once again brought the energy, scoring 11 to go along with 8 rebounds, a few clutch passes to cutting wings, and his usual category of intensity and talk to inject life into the Frogs every time SMU crawled closer. Baugh had a sneaky good game with 9, 7, and 6 including a few key baskets to draw the Frogs further away from the Mustangs.

SMU was an improved opponent compared to Jackson State, and every time TCU hit a double-digit lead, it seemed that SMU found a little run to get the game close. In fact, in the second half, TCU found themselves up 15 or 18 points at times, but the Mustangs just wouldn’t quit and once some shots started falling from deep, it was never a truly comfortable lead for the Frogs.

Speaking of, we’ve noted this a few times and it’s reached the point of becoming a trend this season: TCU struggles to move the ball (and off ball) during zone stretches from opponents. This allows the zone to slink inside the arc and prevents any decent high post or cutting action. Making threes is one (fairly obvious) answer to this, but TCU has got to get better at hitting the high post and using that to facilitate back cuts or an overload against a 2-3 zone to get an inside-out three opportunity.

Secondly, the Frogs against a full court press is a recipe for cardiac events. Even this game, the Frogs were bailed out on long, crosscourt passes which should have been intercepted on multiple times. Rather than flashing the off guard or the off wing to the middle of the floor, the Frogs are happy to continually reverse the ball and tempt longer, sideline length passes to beat the pressure.

Regardless, TCU played a solid game against a sneaky opponent and the defense looked solid for much of the game again. Although SMU took care of the ball (11 turnovers) and rebounded well against TCU, they shot horrendously from deep and couldn’t string together stops on the defensive end.

This week, look for TCU to possibly make a short move up the rankings. The team has a longer stretch to wrap up the semester and hopefully nurse some early nagging injuries before facing Mississippi Valley State next Sunday and gearing up for a good opponent in Utah on Wednesday, December 21. We’ll continue to cover the non-conference schedule as the team gets closer to the Big 12 gauntlet looming on New Year’s Eve, starting with Texas Tech.