TCU will bring a measure of early-season momentum with it when it travels north to play Tulsa on Saturday at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo., the first of two games in two days for both squads.
The winner of the TCU-Tulsa game plays the victor in the tourney’s second game between Liberty (1-1) and South Carolina (0-0) on Sunday afternoon, with the two defeated squads dropping into the losers’ bracket of the four-team event.
The Horned Frogs (1-0) got off to a rousing start, dominating Houston Baptist 69-45 at home on Wednesday in their season opener behind balanced scoring and despite a shortened roster from positive COVID-19 tests.
Mike Miles led the Horned Frogs in scoring with 13 points and contributed five assists and three steals. Kevin Samuel led TCU with 10 rebounds and added three blocks. Junior Chuck O’Bannon, a transfer from Southern California after being a 5-star recruit, saw the court for the first time for the Horned Frogs and racked up 11 points and nine rebounds.
Five players seeing their first minutes for TCU accounted for 43 points in the win over Houston Baptist.
“Four guys have played before, so when you say new, it’s pretty much the whole group,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “We adjusted. I thought some guys did some really good things.”
Dixon was pleased with the effort on the defensive end. The Horned Frogs started the game on a 15-0 run, scored 16 points off turnovers and held Houston Baptist to two second-chance points in the rout.
“Given what I know and what’s going on, I’m pretty happy with what we did, especially early defensively,” Dixon added.
TCU was without point guard RJ Nembhard, who is in COVID-19 protocol, and forward Jaedon LeDee. Nembhard is considered day-to-day and is likely to play in Kansas City.
Saturday’s contest will be the season opener for Tulsa, which comes into this season with five returning letterwinners from a team that posted an 21-10 record and claimed a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship in the truncated 2019-20 campaign.
Brandon Rachal, a 6-foot-6 senior guard/forward, is the Golden Hurricane’s leading returning scorer and rebounder with averages of 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Senior guards Elijah Joiner (7.3 points per game, 2.9 assists per game) and Darien Jackson (7.9 ppg, 3.4 rebounds per game) pair with Joiner in a loaded backcourt.
“I’ve seen those guys grow, and that’s the beauty of seeing seniors — you see their maturity,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “You know, you can’t win if you don’t have a good locker room, and I know that those guys all embrace what our program, our culture is all about. We have a really good locker room, and they really understand what we have to do to be successful.”
Tulsa added five freshmen, one four-year transfer and a junior college transfer to the roster. The juco newcomer is Austin Richie, who was a NJCAA Third-Team All-American after spending one season at Triton (Ill.) College after a season at Northern Illinois. Richie averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals at Triton.
–Field Level Media