FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Preseason All-Big 12 guard Desmond Bane hadn’t had a chance yet to see the highlight play from TCU’s season opener. His teammates sure enjoyed watching it live.
After Southwestern got within three points on the first shot after halftime, the Horned Frogs scored 15 in a row — including an alley-oop slam by Bane — and went on to an 83-62 win over the NCAA Division III team on Thursday night.
“I need to see that clip,” Bane said. “It was a good pass by RJ (Nembhard) for sure. Unselfish play … he could have easily laid it up.”
When Bane then looked over at the TCU bench, everyone was standing up and going crazy about the play.
Bane scored 26 points with five 3-pointers and Kevin Samuel had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. They are the only returning starters for TCU, which has nine new scholarship players.
The Frogs entered coach Jamie Dixon’s fourth season picked by Big 12 coaches to finish last in the league. They went to the NIT semifinals last season after being one of the first teams left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Brandon Alexander, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the year last season, led Southwestern with 28 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He was 6 of 8 on 3-pointers.
The Pirates, from Georgetown, Texas, about 160 miles south of the TCU campus, were within 43-40 when Luke Hicks made a layup in the opening minute of the second half. The only time Southwestern led in the game was when Hicks, who finished with 12 points, made a 3-pointer for a 3-2 lead in the first minute of the game before Bane hit consecutive 3s.
TCU then had its 15-0 run. George Mason transfer Jaire Grayer made a 3-pointer before Bane scored eight points in an 85-second span. He made a 3-pointer before a three-point play — he was fouled on the alley-oop dunk. Nembhard’s layup with 15:27 left stretched the Frogs lead to 58-40.
Nembhard finished with 14 points, and Grayer had 13 including three 3-pointers.
“Starting off, of course you’ve got jitters just being new and everything” Grayer said. “I finally settled in. … I wanted to come out and play as hard as I possibly could.”
Freshman forward Diante Smith started for TCU but played less than five minutes because of a hip flexor issue.
DEFENDING THE 3
The Frogs knew that Southwestern would shoot a lot of 3s. The Pirates were 11 of 28 (39 percent) from long range, 7 of 14 before halftime.
“I hoped we’d guard it better, but we didn’t and so again, learning process,” Dixon said. “We were a little better in the second half.”
The last time the two teams played 36 years ago, Dixon was a freshman point guard who got his first collegiate points in TCU’s 82-81 double-overtime win in Fort Worth. Dixon made his only shot and had two rebounds in the game.
Southwestern: Alexander is among seven seniors on the roster for the defending SCAC champions. The game was considered an exhibition for the Pirates and the loss won’t count in their season record.
TCU: The Frogs shot 52 percent (34 of 65) from the field and won like they are supposed to in a season opener against overmatched competition. Getting outrebounded 35-33 is a bit of a concern.
“This has got to change, and it can’t just be (Samuel) rebounding,” Dixon said.
Southwestern will be closer to home Tuesday night to play St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.
TCU plays the second of four consecutive home games to start the season, against Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday night.