By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
FORT WORTH — Usually the largest cheer during pregame introductions is saved for the final player announced. That wasn’t the case Wednesday night in Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, as guard Damion Baugh received a standing ovation when his name was called over the public address system.
Baugh, a senior, played in his first game of the season after finishing a six-game suspension for signing with an unauthorized agent last spring. His return energized the Horned Frogs, leading to arguably TCU’s cleanest, most efficient game of the young season.
“It felt good to be back,” Baugh said. “I’m not a part of the coaching staff anymore.”
Baugh contributed 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals, but more importantly he took pressure off his teammates. Baugh brought a level of aggressiveness and court vision that the Frogs needed, taking some of the pressure off Mike Miles Jr.
“We all know how much DB means to our team,” Miles said. “Him coming back makes us a whole new team. We’re happy to have him back, and I’m probably happy the most.”
Baugh was not the only player returning for the Frogs. Emanuel Miller returned to the lineup after missing the past two games with back spasms, while Micah Peavy played despite sustaining a minor knee injury Saturday in the Frogs’ win over No. 25 Iowa.
Thus, Wednesday night marked the first time this season that TCU played with its full roster.
It’s no wonder the Frogs looked deserving of their preseason top-15 ranking.
Eddie Lampkin Jr. recorded his first double-double of the season, leading the team with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He brought his usual energy to the court, something that was missing early in the season while he battled the flu. Lampkin credited Baugh for his performance.
“I was happy to get DB back, because I know he’s got a good feel for me,” Lampkin said. “That’s what me and him do, off the ball screens and the high-low. I know he’s always going to look down, and that’s what he did today. He trusted me.”
Six Frogs finished in double-digits, with Peavy, Miller and Chuck O’Bannon joining Lampkin, Miles, and Baugh on the balanced attack.
Noticeably, TCU only attempted 12 3-point shots, making six. The Frogs have shot fewer 3-pointers in each of their past five games as the offense shifts back to the inside-out, ball movement-oriented system that was effective late last season.
The Frogs jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game, seemingly inspired by the return of not only Baugh but Miller as well. The pair are two of TCU’s best defenders, and that was reflected early as Providence turned the ball over six times in their first 10 possessions.
The Friars worked their way out of the deficit, however, thanks in large part to their big men. Ed Croswell and Bryce Hopkins combined for 14 first-half points, using their size to break down the Frogs’ defense. Post size isn’t an issue TCU has had to deal with yet this season, but on Wednesday the Frogs were forced to adjust on the fly.
Croswell and Hopkins showed good athleticism, helping keep the rebounding game close as well. Their efforts, along with some hot shooting from guard Devin Carter, helped the Friars erase that nine-point deficit over the next several minutes.
A Carter 3-point shot from the top of the arc put the Friars ahead 22-20, but TCU responded quickly. Two 3-pointers from Miles and Baugh pushed the Frogs’ back to even at 28 just moments later.
A 10-5 run over the last 3:12 of the half gave TCU a 38-33 lead.
The Frogs extended their lead in the second half and never looked back, leading by double-digits for the majority of the final 20 minutes. TCU’s defense helped the run, as Providence opened the half going 0-of-7 from the floor.
Late in the second half, Miles was assessed a technical foul for flopping, his second of the season. It’s a new rule in the NCAA this year, that players will not receive a flop warning.
Miles joked after the game that he was fouled on the play that earned his technical tonight, but also noted that he isn’t necessarily going to change the way he plays.
“He did push my arm down,” Miles said. “I probably didn’t have to fall, but he did foul me.”
Miles hits the deck a lot during games, a marker of how aggressively he attacks the rim and how fast he plays the game. While it’s a sign of his toughness and effort, head coach Jamie Dixon stressed after the game that there are times it can hurt.
“I called timeout when he went down the one time because it hurts us in transition,” Dixon said. “It’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of, of knowing that being back on defense is the most important thing.”
TCU’s lead on Wednesday night made the technical foul and the multiple bodies hitting the floor beneath the rim a non-factor, there could come a time that staying on his feet will be more important.
Nonetheless, the Frogs came away with the win on Wednesday night, and they now have almost a week off before they host Jackson State next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Jamie Plunkett, email@example.com