TCU basketball’s early-season mission: Become a better rebounding team

TCU coach Jamie Dixon had a pointed critique of his team following an 83-62 victory over Southwestern University to open the season on Thursday.

“The rebounding is something that’s gotta change,” Dixon said.

Yes, TCU should not get out-rebounded by a Division III school. But that’s what happened with the Pirates winning the battle on the boards 35-33.

The Frogs were also out-rebounded in their “secret” scrimmages against Mississippi State and Washington last month.

“This has got to change,” Dixon said, repeating himself.

TCU sophomore center Kevin Samuel had a game-leading 12 rebounds and Jaire Grayer had eight. But no other Frogs had more than three.

Southwestern, meanwhile, had four players with at least four rebounds.

“It can’t be just Kevin rebounding,” Dixon said.

The players agreed.

Senior guard Desmond Bane admitted rebounding sometimes becomes a forgotten aspect with the 6-foot-11 Samuel so effective in that department. But it must become a group effort for TCU.

“We were talking in the locker room, we kind of just rely on him to rebound because he’s so big and so athletic,” Bane said. “He gets so many of them and we forget to go and crash ourselves. We got out-rebounded tonight, so that’s on us. We’re going to improve on that next week for sure going forward.”

Other takeaways from the game —

Freshman forward Diante Smith started the game, but exited after less than five minutes played with a hip flexor injury. Dixon did not have an update afterward, but is optimistic it isn’t too serious.

Samuel on TCU’s second-half defense, which held Southwestern to just 24 points: “We just locked in. We were giving up too many 3s, so we emphasized getting our hands up and trying to run them off the line. They got a couple shots, but we were locked in for the rest of the game.”

Bane had the highlight of the night with an alley-oop dunk from RJ Nembhard as part of a 15-0 run early in the second half. Bane noticed what that play did for the bench, saying: “I look over at the bench and everybody is standing up, including the managers behind the bench. That’s something you don’t see everywhere. That’s our strong suit.”

Bane on shooting 10 3-pointers on the night (finishing 5-for-10 from deep): “I don’t think I took too many bad ones, what do you think? … If that’s the recipe, that’s the recipe.”

TCU’s season-opening starting lineup: Bane, Samuel, Smith, Nembhard and freshman point guard Francisco Farabello. Farabello finished with five assists in 26 minutes.

TCU faces Louisiana next Tuesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena.

Dec. 3 game

TCU is pushing back its tip-off time for the Dec. 3 game against Illinois State. Tip-off is now scheduled for 8 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m.

The game will still be televised on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

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