After TCU beat Tennessee State 60-40 on Monday night at the University Recreation Center to complete a perfect nonconference run, Horned Frogs coach Trent Johnson told his team its 13-0 run is an accomplishment to be celebrated.
With the win, TCU tied the 2001-02 Oklahoma State squad for the 10th best start in Big 12 history, a big step for a program that went 9-22 last season.
Now, with the conference slate ahead, it’s a thing of the past.
“We’ve done a decent job and you need to be commended for that, but enjoy that till like 11 o’clock and after that it’s getting ready for a grind,” Johnson said he told his team.
Before TCU exited that first, nonconference, part of the season, it was forced to grind out a defensive game to support a cold-shooting touch in the unfamiliar atmosphere of the URC.
In the first seven minutes of the game, TCU went just 3 of 11 from the field, missing both attempts from behind the arc.
“It was a bit of an adjustment,” senior guard Kyan Anderson said. “It was our first time playing in here, so we had to get used to the rims. But we seemed to shoot it well in practice and in shoot-around. A lot of shots didn’t go down, but we found a way to get the W.”
Anderson finished with a game-high 16 points, moving him 69 points shy of ninth place on TCU’s all-time scoring list.
The path to victory for TCU was hustle on the defensive end and physical play on the backboards that turned into high-percentage shots and points on the other end.
TCU forced 14 turnovers that led to 16 points and pulled down 50 rebounds that aided in 24 points off second-chance opportunities. TCU then found openings in the paint, outscoring TSU down low 34-12.
Sophomore forwards Chris Washburn and Kenrich Williams pulled down 12 and 13 rebounds respectively, both career highs for the underclassmen.
Tennessee State (2-12) fought back to a five-point deficit with 10 minutes to play in the game, aided by four TCU turnovers in a stretch of five minutes.
Johnson took a timeout that not only helped re-focus his team, but provided a learning moment for the challenges of Big 12 play, which the Frogs begin Saturday against West Virginia.
“As long as you understand, right now they’re not going anywhere unless you take care of the ball and you rebound it and you defend,” Johnson said he told the team during the timeout. “No. 2, I told them, come Saturday, you mess around like that, they’ll go on a 16-0 run and you’ll have your head between your legs”
The Horned Frogs closed out the game on a 13-0 run that saw their shooting percentage rise from 7.7 percent to 34.5 percent in the second half.
“Like I’ve been trying to tell everybody, these guys don’t know what comfortable is after last season,” Anderson said. “I feel like we won’t settle.”