By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Length and an unconscious shooting effort proved too much for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team to overcome Monday evening, as the Golden Eagles (1-1) fell in their first road contest of the season at TCU (2-0), 100-63.
The reigning National Invitational Tournament champions used an eye-popping performance from its outside game to do the damage on the night, finishing 16-for-29 overall. The team really set the tone early with an 8-for-15 showing in the first half. Overall, TCU, which received several votes in both major preseason polls, shot 67.7 percent from the field in the first stanza, blocking five shots and forcing 10 TTU turnovers.
"We wanted them shooting jumps shots," head coach Steve Payne explained. "We were a little short on some of our close-outs, but we had to take away the rim with their size and length. Our guys did that, but they do a terrific job of reading the pick-and-roll and [TCU guard Desmond] Bane hit his shots. He finished 6-of-10 from three and I think all of them were off the pick-and-roll, step in, fill and replace.
"They just stepped up and hit shots early that if they miss, it's a different ball game. They got on a roll and just never stopped. All the credit goes to them. Coming in, if you had told me they were going to hit 16-of-29 threes, I would have told you we were in trouble. This is a Sweet 16 caliber team. Our chance was to take care of the ball, holding them to one shot, and protect the rim. We did some good things, just not enough."
The Golden Eagles struggled to get much going inside over the first 20 minutes, scoring 10 points in the paint while being held without a free throw attempt.
Tech opened the second half with more consistency on the offensive end, scoring 11 points over the first four minutes, thanks in large part to a trio of triples from senior guard Aleksa Jugovic and graduate guard Kajon Mack.
On the other side, the Horned Frogs continued its deadly shooting touch from the floor, and, more specifically, from down town. TCU hit seven of its first eight treys of the half, extending its lead while continuing to shoot well from inside as well.
Jugovic, Mack, and senior forwards Mason Ramsey and Curtis Phillips Jr. all tied for the team lead with 12 points apiece, with Jugovic draining four 3-pointers. Jugovic also dished out five assists and made two steals while Mack tallied four dimes and four rebounds.
Junior forward Courtney Alexander II corralled a team-high 11 rebounds, bumping his season average into double figures.
Bane led all scorers on the night with 24 points, finishing 6-of-10 from 3-point-range and 9-of-13 from the floor. Overall, five Horned Frog players finished in double figures.
"I hate it for our guys, but this is a good opportunity for us to learn and improve," Payne said. "It's only the second game of the season. We'll get back home, take tomorrow off and then Wednesday we'll practice hard and get ready for Thursday's game and Saturday's game. This is a big weekend for us and if we go 2-1 this week, that's a great week for us."
The Golden Eagles return to Cookeville and the Eblen Center Thursday, Dec. 16 to host Boyce College in a 6 p.m. CT tilt.
Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics