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After opening scare, No. 14 TCU seeks improvement vs. Lamar

Sportsnaut
Nov 7, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions guard AC Curry (24) and TCU Horned Frogs forward Chuck O'Bannon Jr. (5) in action during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 TCU will host in-state rival Lamar on Friday night at Fort Worth, Texas, in a meeting of teams coming off last-second, season-opening victories.

The Big 12’s Horned Frogs held on for a 73-72 win Monday night against visiting Arkansas-Pine Bluff. TCU trailed by 20 points in the first half, but Mike Miles Jr. nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds left, and the Golden Lions’ Trejon Ware missed a shot aiming for the win at the buzzer.

Less than eight months removed from an NCAA Tournament first-round triumph, TCU had been expected to beat its Southwestern Athletic Conference foe with little problem.

“No matter who we play, every team in the country is going to come at us,” TCU forward Emanuel Miller said. “We’re seen and perceived to be one of the best teams in the country, so we’re going to get every team’s best.”

That same evening, Lamar escaped with a 63-61 home triumph against Division III St. Thomas (Texas).

The Cardinals, of the Southland Conference, have eight freshmen and five transfers.

“We showed grit against Pine Bluff, a veteran team,” Lamar coach Alvin Brooks said Wednesday. “The effort and energy was good, so I didn’t walk away disappointed. Actually, I was pleased.”

Brooks, though, said his team will face a much tougher task against TCU.

“I know they’ll be chomping at the bit to play much better than they did,” Brooks said of the Horned Frogs. “Athletically, I know our guys can compete. I’m not sure if they’re physically ready for that, but we’ll find out.”

TCU coach Jamie Dixon promised that his highly ranked team would perform better against Lamar than it did against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Miller scored a team-high 19 points, 15 in the second half, in the opener, and Miles added 15 points and five rebounds. Chuck O’Bannon Jr. (11 points, seven boards) led the team in rebounding.

The Horned Frogs won despite shooting 38.9 percent from the floor.

“We’re not the team we were in October, for whatever reason,” Dixon said. “I thought we would handle it better. We were not very good on offense, not very good on defense.”

Neither the Horned Frogs nor the Cardinals shot well from behind the arc in their openers. TCU was 4 of 21 (19 percent) and Lamar finished 5 of 20 (25 percent).

Lamar newcomer Chris Pryor, a former junior college All-American, scored a team-high 23 points against St. Thomas. He sank three 3-pointers and made all eight of his foul shots.

“He’s a gritty little point guard,” Brooks said. “He’s not big in size, but he’s huge in energy and heart. A high-energy guy.”

Each coach also said he needed his team to rebound better Friday night, with Brooks specifically pointing to work on the defensive boards.

TCU has won the past four meetings with Lamar and leads the all-time series 10-2. The teams last matched up on Dec. 14, 2019, when the Horned Frogs emerged with a 79-50 win in Fort Worth.

–Field Level Media