RJ Nembhard scored 20 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining, as TCU pulled out a 59-58 nonconference victory Thursday over UC Irvine in Fort Worth, Texas.
Desmond Desmond Bane added 11 points as the Horned Frogs (4-0) won despite Kevin Samuel scoring just four points with three rebounds. The TCU sophomore, who dealt with foul trouble, failed to record a double-double for the first time this season.
Collin Welp scored 14 points and Eyassu Worku had 12, but the Anteaters (3-3) missed three free throws in the final 21 seconds that would have sealed the victory. UC Irvine’s Brad Greene scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
With TCU trailing 58-56, Samuel had two free-throw attempts to tie the game with 30 seconds remaining but didn’t sink either, completely missing the rim on the first attempt. Worku could have extended UC Irvine’s two-point advantage from the line with 21 seconds remaining, but he missed the first end of a one-and-one.
The Anteaters’ John Edgar Jr. had two free-throw attempts with 12 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game, but he also missed both. UC Irvine did not score in the final 1:43 of the game.
Bane grabbed the rebound off Edgar’s second miss, and Nembhard hit the game winner on the other end to keep the Horned Frogs undefeated.
UC Irvine, which advanced to the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament and is the favorite to win the Big West Conference, lost despite a 44-28 rebounding advantage. The Anteaters also led 30-16 on points in the paint.
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon earned his 400th career victory in his first attempt at the milestone.
The Anteaters played without starting guard Evan Leonard, who was out with an undisclosed injury. UCI freshman Jeron Artest, son of longtime NBA player Metta World Peace, started for the first time and scored seven points in 28 minutes.
The Anteaters nearly had an upset in Texas for the second consecutive season after hitting the road to defeat Texas A&M in November 2018.
—Field Level Media