Williams powers No. 20 TCU past SMU
Despite what TCU’s record says nine games into the 2017-18 season, the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs are far from perfect.
However, they have been pretty darn close since last April when they won five games to capture the NIT, and on Tuesday, not even a game against one of their oldest rivals, the SMU Mustangs, could push them off the fast track.
Kenrich Williams scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Horned Frogs to a 94-83 victory over SMU at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, expanding the nation’s longest winning streak to 14 games.
TCU snapped a five-game losing streak to the Mustangs, defeating its long-time Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex foil for the first time in eight years.
“Obviously this was a good win for us against a really good SMU team, and we had to do a lot of things well to win tonight,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “We’re still growing and learning. We could have handled the pressure better and we had too many turnovers, but a lot of those came when SMU was desperate and doing things we wouldn’t normally see. We will work on being better with the ball in those situations.
Williams finished one rebound shy of his fifth consecutive double-double, and he added five assists and three steals but committed seven of his team’s 20 turnovers.
“My teammates were finding me and I was shooting with confidence,” Williams said. “My game is about getting hustle points and finding ways to help the team, and I just had a good night shooting.
“Winning this game and beating SMU is huge for our program and for our future moving forward. It’s one of the goals I had for this season as a senior, and we got that done tonight.”
Jaylen Fisher’s two free throws and a 3-pointer from Williams granted the Horned Frogs a 72-60 advantage with 7:08 to play. TCU led 78-65 with 4:30 remaining before the Mustangs made a final charge, pulling within 81-75 on a Jimmy Whitt jumper with 2:02 left.
Kouat Noi added a career-high 16 points off the bench for TCU (9-0). Desmond Bane tallied 14 points, Fisher scored 11 and Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed added 10 points for the Horned Frogs. TCU reserves outscored SMU’s bench players 26-3.
Ethan Chargois led SMU (7-3) with 21 points while Jarrey Foster scored 19, Shake Milton hit for 18, and Whitt added 12 points for the Mustangs. SMU, which received 15 votes in the AP poll on Monday, took its worst defeat of the season three nights after beating No. 25 USC.
Williams paced TCU in the first half with 13 points as the Horned Frogs led 43-38 at intermission. Chargois led the Mustangs with 13 points, Foster had 11 points for SMU and Milton had 10, combining to score all but four of SMU points in the first half.
The contest was tied at 47 after two free throws by Whitt with 15:34 to play, but the Horned Frogs scored seven of the ensuing nine points and took charge.
Overall, TCU hit 56.5 percent of its shots from the floor to 51.7 percent for SMU.
“We have four freshman playing, and we’ve been asking a lot of them this season,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. “We lost on defense — come on, you can have guys in the gym playing H-O-R-S-E and not shoot as well as TCU did tonight, and that’s what made the difference.
“This was a big game and we didn’t play as well on defense as we did the other night against USC, but repeating that performance was a lot to ask. We needed to make some stops and we didn’t.”
NOTES: This was the 192st meeting on the basketball court between TCU and SMU, which are located about 40 miles apart. SMU still leads the all-time series 106-86. ... TCU returned its top six scorers, including all five starters, from last season’s team that went 24-15, finished tied for seventh in the Big 12 and won the NIT. ... SMU junior G Shake Milton was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday. He averaged 22 points, six assists and five rebounds in wins against Texas Rio Grande Valley and No. 25 USC to earn his second such award this year. ... This was SMU’s first road game of the season. The Mustangs played six home games and three neutral-site contests in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis.