No. 23 TCU beats Belmont 87-76 in return to AP rankings
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Rankings were part of the routine in the 13 seasons that TCU coach Jamie Dixon spent at Pittsburgh.
Now that his alma mater is in The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in almost three years in Dixon’s second season, the idea will be to keep the Horned Frogs there.
Dixon thought his team handled its return to the rankings well.
Vladimir Brodziansky scored 22 points and the 23rd-ranked Horned Frogs extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 12 games with an 87-76 victory against Belmont on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-11 senior from Slovakia was 5 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 11 overall for the Frogs, who were in the poll for a week at No. 25 in 2014 and now have their highest ranking since No. 21 in January 1999.
“I think it’s more of an obstacle,” Dixon said. “You can’t rest on it. You’ve just got to get through it and get better because of it. I thought our practices were good. The attention was good. I thought we handled being ranked in a good way and it’s behind us.”
Dylan Windler scored 17 points and Kevin McClain and Amanze Egekeze had 15 apiece in a third straight loss for Belmont (4-4).
JD Miller had 16 points and eight rebounds for TCU, which won its last five games last season on the way to the NIT championship and is off to a 7-0 start for the third time in four seasons.
Kenrich Williams had his third straight double-double and fourth of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Frogs outrebounded the Bruins 37-23. The NIT MVP led the Big 12 with 19 double-doubles last season, including all five NIT games.
The Horned Frogs had a 15-0 advantage in second-chance points against the Bruins.
“They’re just a really good offensive rebounding team,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “I know that we’re easier to rebound against than Kansas or some of the people they’re going to play later on, but it’s still going to be a strength of theirs.”
Alex Robinson had a four-point play after getting fouled on a 3-pointer and Brodziansky and Jalen Fisher each had three-point plays following layups during a 15-0 run that put the Horned Frogs up 36-16 in the first half.
Desmond Bane made all six free throws and scored 12 points for TCU, and Jaylen Fisher had seven points and eight assists.
BIG MAN FROM DEEP
Brodziansky hit three of his 3-pointers in a span of 55 seconds early in the first half, the latter giving TCU a 15-6 lead. “When Vlad’s shooting 3s like that, we’re going to be good throughout the game. We just have to close out a little better than we did defensively,” Miller said.
Belmont’s Austin Luke, who grew up in the Dallas area, matched Fisher for the game high in assists with eight. The Horned Frogs, who came in 10th nationally in assists, were right on their average of 20.
1K AND COUNTING
Byrd coached his 1,001st game at Belmont, with his record falling to 666-335. The 64-year-old wasn’t aware that he was close the milestone until he was told before No. 1,000 that his record was 666-333. Now he just wants a win to get off that dubious number. “You don’t do this and think you’re going to be at one place and coach that many games,” said Byrd, in his 32nd year with the Bruins and 37th overall.
Belmont: It was another competitive loss for the Bruins against a Power Five opponent. They lost by four points at Washington in the opener before beating Vanderbilt by nine at home. Prospects look good for Belmont’s eighth NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006, and first since 2015.
TCU: The Horned Frogs have had a hard time pulling away from opponents that appear to be outmatched, an issue that goes back to the opener against Louisiana-Monroe. The Bruins were within seven points in the final 2 minutes.
Belmont: Green Bay at home Saturday.
TCU: Yale at home Saturday.