A tale of two halves: TCU men’s basketball survives thriller against Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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Forward Emanuel Miller throws it down against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com)

By Sederick Oliver, Executive Editor, Image Magazine

After dominating in an exhibition match against Paul Quinn College on Oct. 30, No. 14 TCU men’s basketball opened its regular season with a 73-72 victory over the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions on Monday night at Schollmaier Arena. 

The atmosphere was electric as the crowd readied for the start of the 2022-23 season with newfound expectations.

Shahada Wells replaced senior guard Damion Baugh in the starting lineup as Baugh awaits the status of his appeal of a suspension placed by the NCAA.

First half shooting woes

Guard Mike Miles Jr. scored on a reverse driving layup to open the game and season for the Frogs, but from there, the team struggled to score the basketball. 

The Golden Lions began the game scorching hot as they made eight out of their first 11 three-point attempts. TCU was unable to stop Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s three-point shooting or match their output, finding themselves down 29-9 early in the first half.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard Shaun Doss Jr. and forward Chris Greene each contributed 13 early points, as the ball moved early and seemingly found open shooters every possession.

The Golden Lions were able to successfully contain the Frogs sending early double-teams to trap Miles and forcing him to give up the ball, ruining any chance for TCU to gain an offensive rhythm.

Though struggling, TCU managed to draw fouls on key players to get to the free throw line 20 times as they slowly chipped away at the lead.

Forward Chuck O’Bannon Jr. made the Frogs’ first three pointer after 10 tries with 16 seconds left to go in the half. 

The Frogs shot just 32 percent from the field and 9 percent from three, as they trailed 46-35 at the break.

Second half defensive intensity

After giving up 11 three-pointers to the Golden Lions, TCU started the second half with a defensive intensity that wasn’t present during the first 20 minutes.

“We have a thing where we can’t allow the other team to make more than five threes in the entire game,” O’Bannon Jr. said. “So, we knew that we had to come out in the second half and stop them from hitting so many shots.”

Miller was able to force many turnovers with his on-ball defense and even started the half scoring nine straight, bringing the Frogs within single digits. With Arkansas-Pine Bluff out of sync, TCU was able to tie the game after guard Micah Peavy converted on a couple trips to the charity stripe.

After trailing most of the game, sophomore center Eddie Lampkin Jr. scored through contact while drawing a foul, giving the Frogs their first lead, 52-50 since the 18:12 mark in the first half.

The “Eddie!” chants ensued throughout Schollmaier. 

Greene, one of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s key contributors, fouled out with 12:29 left to go in the game.

After a see-saw battle that saw both teams exchange the lead, forward Ishmael Plet made a layup that put the Golden Lions up 70-66. Shortly after, Peavy made two free throws that trimmed the deficit to two for the Frogs.

The score was 70-68 with 1:30 remaining.

Then, Mike Miles Jr. happened.

The Frog guard, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, swished a walkup three-pointer that put the Frogs ahead by one, 71-70.

Timely defensive stops and free throws by O’Bannon Jr. secured the win for TCU as they walked away with a 73-72 victory.

Miller led the Frogs with 19 points shooting 8-for-13 from the field.

Though the Frogs were able to start the season with a win, the team is far from content.

“We aren’t satisfied with anything today,” Miles Jr. said.

Miller believes the game was a wakeup call for the No. 14 Frogs.

“Moving forward we have to know that we are one of the best teams in the country,” Miller said. “We just have to prepare and be the best team in the country like I know me and my teammates are capable of.”

NEXT UP

The Frogs now look ahead as they matchup against the Lamar Cardinals (1-0) on Nov. 11 at Schollmaier Arena as both teams look to improve to 2-0 for the season. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.