It wasn't Devonta Abron's team-high 13 points, which tied a career-high for the sophomore forward, that drew the most praise from TCU coach Trent Johnson Tuesday evening.
Instead, it was Abron's bread and butter, his rebounding skills, that helped the Frogs (4-1) hold off Navy 47-45 in front of an announced crowd of 3,829 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
Abron, who made his first start for TCU with Adrick McKinney ailing from a stomach illness, pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds and delivered offensively down the stretch with the game in doubt to earn his first-career double-double.
Nate Butler Lind drew three defenders near the baseline on a slashing move to the basket and hit Abron alone in the paint for a layup to give TCU the lead for good, 42-40, after nine ties with 4:37 remaining.
The Frogs stretched their lead to six with 2:07 remaining after Abron fed Jarvis Ray on a fast-break layup and Garlon Green rebounded and dunked Butler Lind's miss.
"He took what was open at the time and you saw how it turned out," Abron said of Lind's pass. "It was a good play, but he makes good plays all the time. Once we got momentum at that point in the game we just knew we had it and we needed to keep going. They're a strong team and they don't give up on plays."
The Midshipmen (2-3), in fact, didn't go away easily. Brandon Venturini's 3-pointer with 1:33 left cut the Frogs' lead to 46-43. Navy had a chance to tie it but Venturini and Worth Smith missed 3-point attempts on the same possession.
Venturini put back Smith's miss to cut Navy's deficit to 46-45 with 11 seconds left.
Clyde Smith III hit one of two free throws after being fouled on TCU's inbounds pass, giving Venturini time for a 3-point attempt at the buzzer. It sailed long as Butler Lind made a valiant effort to alter the shot.
"He's put back-to-back games now in terms of his energy and his confidence," Johnson said of Abron, a transfer from Arkansas.
"For whatever reason he was struggling and he was fighting himself early on, and this is what he expected of himself, and this is what we expected. I thought he gave us great energy in the second half at crucial times."
TCU is scheduled to face Northwestern in the South Padre Invitational at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the South Padre Island Convention Center.
Trent Johnson is the first coach to start his TCU tenure 4-1 since Mike Brumbelow started 6-1 in 1937.
TCU last won consecutive games scoring 49 or fewer points in February 1951 over Texas A&M (30-27) and Texas (49-34).