Country Toads: TCU beats West Virginia with balance, backups

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Xavier Cork  and Shahada Wells  combined for 31 points in TCU’s 76-72 win over West Virginia (TCU Basketball).

By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer


FORT WORTH — Words were exchanged between TCU and West Virginia on Tuesday night following the Horned Frogs’ 76-72 win over the Mountaineers.

Several players had to be separated, including TCU’s Eddie Lampkin Jr. and West Virginia’s Jimmy Bell Jr., as the Frogs moved to the student section for their customary singing of the alma mater. Coaches from both teams intervened quickly, managing to separate everyone before the situation escalated any further.

Video footage showed Bell exchanging words with TCU students moments before Lampkin stepped in.

TCU left the court without singing the alma mater, and West Virginia followed shortly after, as both teams exited the single tunnel that leaves Schollmaier’s court separately.

Lampkin played for the first time in four games, but logged just eight minutes as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain. He contributed two points and two assists, but his biggest addition was his energy. On a night where the crowd was almost exclusively students, it was good for the Frogs to have Lampkin back on the court.

Lampkin has had a unique relationship with TCU’s student body ever since he stepped on campus. He quickly became their favorite player, jumping into the stands after wins and always speaking highly of them in press conferences. The fruit of that relationship showed up Tuesday, with Lampkin stepping in.

On the court, the real story was the play of two reserves forced into the starting lineup due to injury.

Starting in place of Mike Miles Jr. and Lampkin, Shahada Wells and Xavier Cork combined for 31 points on 13-of-16 shooting.

Cork was a perfect 6-for-6, including three monstrous dunks that served as exclamation points on TCU’s near wire-to-wire win. West Virginia’s last lead of the night came at the 15:57 mark of the first half. A transition basket from Cork gave TCU the lead for good just seconds later.

Wells has seen his role grow this season, first because he earned more minutes, and second by necessity. His 17-point outburst against Kansas started a run of four quality games during which he’s averaging 12.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting with just three turnovers.

Wells finished Tuesday with 16 points and five assists.

JaKobe Coles led the Frogs with 17 points in 18 minutes as he spent time at center in TCU’s smaller lineup. Between Coles and Cork, the Frogs got plenty of production from their front court.

Coles, Cork and Wells were all the beneficiaries of Damion Baugh’s court vision, as he consistently found them in their scoring spots. Baugh finished the night with 16 points and 10 assists, TCU’s second points-assist double-double of the season.

Miles achieved the feat against Kansas State earlier this year, scoring 13 points to go with 11 assists.

Baugh is TCU’s assist leader this season, and he showed his whole arsenal against the Mountaineers.

Some of Baugh’s passes were simply next-level.

He threaded one between two defenders on the baseline to a cutting Emanuel Miller for a layup.

He fired a two-handed chest pass from midcourt to Cork in the paint for an easy dunk.

He had a one-touch transition pass — receiving a pass from Miller and dished it to Wells in a single motion, all while running at full speed — for a transition basket.

Baugh is TCU’s assist leader this season, and he showed his whole arsenal against the Mountaineers.

When he wasn’t passing, Baugh was finding his way to the rim. Ten of his points came in the paint, with another four coming at the free-throw line following fouls on drives or in transition. Baugh set the tone for TCU, especially in the second half, as the Frogs protected a lead that never grew larger than 12 points.

As a team TCU shot 51.7 percent, met its season average of 20 points in transition, and pulled down 32 rebounds.

Rebounding was a point of emphasis for coach Jamie Dixon during Monday’s practice, and the Frogs clearly got the message. After 18 rebounds in their first contest with West Virginia, the Frogs had 18 rebounds at halftime Tuesday.

The Frogs are now 15-1 on the season when they record at least 32 rebounds.

The Frogs improved 17-5 on the season and 6-3 in conference play. They now head on the road for two straight games, beginning Saturday at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are the one Big 12 team remaining on the schedule that the Frogs haven’t faced this season.

Jamie Plunkett,

Just a Frog fan covering TCU Athletics.

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