Miles’ return sparks TCU men’s basketball victory in Emerald Coast Classic

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TCU men’s basketball celebrates their 2022 Emerald Coast Classic championship on Nov. 26, 2022. (Photo courtesy of GoFrogs.com)

By Sederick Oliver, Executive Editor, Image Magazine

TCU men’s basketball defeated the California Golden Bears and Iowa Hawkeyes over the weekend to win the 2022 Emerald Coast Classic.

The Frogs traveled to Niceville, Florida after beginning the season with a four-game homestand at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.

TCU was without its second-leading scorer, senior forward Emanuel Miller, who nursed a back injury. However, star guard Mike Miles Jr. returned after a two-game absence and immediately showed why he was the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.

Semifinals against California

Coming off the bench for the first time since his freshman year, Miles Jr. led TCU to a tedious 59-48 victory over California in the semifinals on Nov. 25.

TCU saw its fifth and sixth different starting lineups as head coach Jamie Dixon continued to experiment with the rotation awaiting the return of senior guard Damion Baugh.

After scoring a career-high 15 points against ULM, sophomore forward JaKobe Coles earned his first start as a Horned Frog.

The Frogs have become synonymous with slow starts and Friday’s showdown against the Golden Bears was no different as TCU came stumbling out of the gate.

The Frogs were able to overcome shooting 32% in the first half to force a 27-21 halftime lead.

Just like the story over the first four games, the Frogs allowed their defense to spark their offense, forcing a season-high 19 turnovers that resulted in 17 points scored.

Although their offense was sluggish at times, the Frogs were able to take care of the ball, committing a season-low seven turnovers.

The bench, fueled by Miles Jr., outscored California’s bench 35 to 11.

Miles Jr. led the Frogs with 23 points on 9-for-22 shooting, highlighted by his usual acrobatic finishes at the rim.

TCU was able to keep California winless (0-7) as the Frogs advanced to the final round of the Thanksgiving tournament in a matchup against No. 25 Iowa.

Finals showdown vs No. 25 Iowa

The Frogs had a quick turnaround, going into the Nov. 26 matchup against an Iowa team that was undefeated and had been destroying their early season competition.

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Hawkeyes averaged 92 points per game and held a scoring margin of 25.4 points between them and their opponents.

Not to be intimated, the Frogs came out swinging, opening the game with an early 9-0 advantage.

Miles Jr., who was back in the starting lineup, showed palpable emotion when a timeout was called after he forced a steal and scored on a fast break.

The Hawkeyes were able to settle into the game, going on a 13-to-4 scoring run to tie the game.

The rest of the first half remained a dog fight as Iowa refused to trail, while TCU refused to relinquish its lead.

This back-and-forth play resulted in a 36-34 halftime advantage for the Frogs.

One development that was evident throughout the game was the Frogs’ shot selection, particularly from three.

After notoriously starting the season shooting poorly from three, the team decided to tone down their attempts only shooting 14 and making five for a respectable 36%.

This is a far cry from the 22 three-point attempts the team averaged going into the Emerald Coast Classic final round, only shooting 24% for the season.

The ball movement, refined shot selection and trademark defensive intensity from the Frogs allowed them to jump out to a 23-point lead as the Hawkeyes struggled to score or stop TCU from scoring.

There was a flip that was switched at halftime that saw TCU penetrate to the rim at will.

Without any interior defense or rim resistance from Iowa, the Frogs pounded the Hawkeyes on the inside, scoring a season-high 58 points in the paint.

After being the only Frog in double figures against California, Miles Jr. was joined by junior guard Micah Peavy and junior forward Xavier Cork who contributed 16 and 10 points, respectively.

TCU held a high-scoring Iowa team to just 66 points, comfortably coasting to a 79-66 victory to improve to 5-1 on the season and becoming the champions of the Emerald Coast Classic.

Miles was named the tournament MVP and was joined by Peavy on the all-tournament team.

Up Next

TCU will now look to begin their Big 12/Big East Battle competition as they take on Providence on Nov. 30 at Schollmaier Arena.

This game should be highlighted by the highly-anticipated return of Damion Baugh after a six-game suspension from the NCAA.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.