Charles Hill, Jr., who attended Trimble Tech High School, came up big on the road for the Horned Frogs on Thursday night.
Hill scored a career-high 20 points and North Crowley ex Kyan Anderson scored 16 as TCU held off Mississippi State, 71-61, at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Frogs, undermanned because of injuries, were without Amric Fields and Hudson Price as an announced crowd of 6,795 was on hand for a game scheduled as part of the Big 12-Southeastern Conference Challenge.
TCU (5-3), which went 1-10 on the road a year ago, is 3-0 this season, with wins at Washington State and Alaska-Anchorage.
“That’s a good win for us,” Johnson said. “Obviously we’re a little undermanned … the injury bug is going on a year and a half now, going strong. It’s a really good win for our program and our basketball team is making strides as we move forward. To do it in the environment we’ve done it the last five games ... we’re making improvements.”
Hill, whose previous scoring high was 13 against Oklahoma last spring, helped TCU build a 34-22 lead at the half with a 10-point surge early in the game.
The Frogs went on a 9-0 run in which Hill hit a 3-pointer and scored three layups, twice the recipient of nice passes under the basket. The Bulldogs pulled to within 26-20 with 3:48 left in the half before Jarvis Ray converted a three-point play and scored a layup on a loose ball. He also had a block in the stretch, which put the Frogs back up by 12 at the half.
TCU led by as much as 18 with 10:09 left the game when the Bulldogs (5-2), who lost for the first time at home this season, mounted a comeback.
Craig Sword, who led all scorers with 24 points, helped MSU cut TCU’s lead to 59-56 on Roquez Johnson’s jumper with 2:28 remaining.
But the Frogs made their free throws down the stretch, including Anderson, who took a steal in for a reverse layup to push the Frogs’ lead back to 63-56 with 1:41 remaining and then made all four of his free-throw attempts in the final 1:13 to help seal the win.
TCU made 25 of 31 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs made 10 of 20. Karviar Shepherd grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and made two free throws with 1:34 left to give the Frogs an eight-point edge.
“I thought we did a really, really good job of keeping our poise,” Johnson said.
MSU made just 3 of 18 from 3-point range as TCU employed a 2-3 zone.
“That’s what we have to do until we get more guys on deck,” Johnson said. “We’re forced to play zone. I think the kids did a good job of knowing who the shooter was.”
Hill was 7 of 13 from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
“I was just trying to be aggressive going to the basket,” he said. “When they played off me I was shooting the open jumper. My teammates were looking for me, too, so that makes it a lot easier.”
Freshman guard Hudson Price did not make the trip because of an illness. He’s expected to be available for TCU’s next game on Dec. 15.
Forward Amric Fields (broken hand) is expected to be available in a month, perhaps before TCU’s Big 12 opener against West Virginia on Jan. 4.