How excited are TCU men’s basketball players for the 2018-19 season?
Desmond Bane has a simple philosophy.
“Shooters shoot,” Bane said, “and I’m going to keep shooting.”
His teammates didn’t disagree.
“We just keep giving him the ball,” Kouat Noi said. “It’s that simple.”
That proved to be a good mindset for TCU on Friday.
Bane finished with a team-high 24 points, including a 4-for-6 night from 3-point range. He entered the game making just 26 percent of his shots from long range, including going 1-for-9 in the last two games.
Those were uncharacteristic numbers for the Big 12’s best 3-point shooter last season at 46 percent and Bane never wavered in his believe things would turn around.
“All credit to my teammates, they’ve just really been keeping my spirits high,” Bane said. “We moved the ball a lot and when everybody is getting touches you’re going to feel good at some point. Tonight just happened to me my night.”
The same can be said for the entire team. The TCU team that showed up Friday is the one most expected when it started the season ranked in the Top 25 before falling out on the heels of a loss to Lipscomb.
The Frogs scored a season-high in points, shooting 55 percent from the field, and held a Central Michigan team that had been averaging 86 points to a season low in points and field goal percentage (33 percent).
“Their top 25 ranking earlier was well deserved,” Central Michigan coach Keno Davis said. “They can beat you in so many ways, and they really don’t seem to have any weaknesses that you can expose. We were hoping to stay away from any big runs like they had in the first half, but they were able to get to the basket and make their 3’s.”
TCU went into the game struggling to get going offensively early in games, but that wasn’t an issue. The Frogs built a 20-point lead by halftime.
Bane scored eight points during an 11-0 run by TCU to make it 39-19 with 2:51 left. Bane knocked down two 3s in that stretch, and Noi also hit a 3-pointer in that stretch. As a team, TCU shot 59 percent from the field in the opening half.
That trend continued in the second half. The Chippewas never got back in the game, a positive sign for a relatively inexperienced Frogs team.
“Sometimes you don’t know how games are going to go when you get a 20 point lead at the half,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “But it shows a sign of maturity when you have eight new guys, it is a question. That’s something we’re battling. But continue to defend, hold them to 27 percent in the second half, really is a good sign where everybody is buying in and understanding what we’re doing defensively.”
TCU out-rebounded Central Michigan 48-31, something that sat well with Dixon. What didn’t? A total of 16 turnovers, including 10 by big men.
“That’s the one thing that just continues to hold us down,” Dixon said. “It’s just about playing and getting minutes under their belt and playing college basketball with officials and recognizing what they’re calling, emphasizing this year.”
Outside of that, though, TCU is taking positive strides of late. Noi and Jaylen Fisher are getting healthy and productive; Bane is making his shots; and Alex Robinson is getting assists at a nice clip (12 assists, 11 points on Friday).
That’s a good sign for a team with its first road trips of the season next week against SMU on Wednesday and USC next weekend.
“This is a good confidence builder for us to go into SMU because this will be our first away game and we’ve got to get our momentum going,” said forward JD Miller, who had six points and 12 rebounds. “This is going to be a good game; we’re going to be ready for them.”