TCU puts perfect mark on line vs. nemesis SMU

The Battle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex between SMU and TCU is always a heated one, but things have been turned up a notch for the latest showdown between the two teams, which will be played Tuesday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Horned Frogs, up three spots to No. 20 in the latest Associated Press poll, will try to break a five-game losing streak to SMU, their longtime rivals some 30 miles to the east.

Also on the line will be the TCU’s nation-leading winning streak, which they extended to 13 games with a 92-66 win over Yale on Saturday night in Fort Worth. That victory, paired with its win over Belmont earlier last week, marked the first time the Horned Frogs had won consecutive games as a ranked team since January 1999.

Desmond Bane made 5 of 9 shots, including 5 of 8 on 3-pointers, and scored 18 points to pace six double-figure scorers for TCU (8-0) against Yale. The Horned Frogs led by 14 points at halftime and never looked back, shooting 59.4 percent from the field and dominating the paint, outscoring the Bulldogs 48-28 in close.

Jaylen Fisher finished with 17 points and seven assists, Alex Robinson scored 13 off the bench, Ahmed Handy-Mohamed and Kenrich Williams had 12 apiece and J.D. Miller added 11.

“Offensively we were really good throughout, and we did a good job of playing out of the post,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “A lot of good things happened against Yale, and they’re a good team, so we are pleased at the result today.

“We’ve got to go get ready for SMU and then for Nevada, and both those games are important for us RPI-wise. These are two of the better teams we will play in non-conference.”

TCU had 22 assists on 38 made baskets against Yale, which shows that the Horned Frogs are sharing the ball well and making shots.

“We like moving the ball — it’s fun that everybody gets their touches and gets their shots,” Fisher said. “The last thing we want is guys working to get the ball and us not getting it to them — we want everyone happy.”

The Mustangs head to Cowtown on the heels of a 72-55 victory over then-No. 14 USC on Saturday, which extended its home winning streak to 28 games. Only Cincinnati has a longer home winning streak in the country than SMU at 30 in a row.

After falling behind 37-33, the Mustangs (7-2) stifled USC, holding the visiting Trojans without a field goal for 8:24. A 25-7 run spanning nearly 12 minutes in the second half powered SMU to the victory, which avenged two losses to the Trojans last season, including one in the NCAA Tournament.

“If every game was that fun, I’d want to coach forever,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. “I’m really proud of our guys. It was an incredible effort against USC. What a second half. I don’t know if we’ve played that well in a big game for a half against a team like that.”

Shake Milton, one of four Mustangs scoring in double figures, paced the SMU attack by connecting on 4 of 7 shots from behind the 3-point line for a game-high 22 points. Ben Emelogu II made four 3-pointers and had 16 points, while Jimmy Whitt and Jarrey Foster added 14 and 13, respectively.

The margin of victory could have been far worse if the Mustangs had not missed 13 free throws.

SMU, which received 15 votes in the AP poll on Monday, had two defeats early in the season by a combined five points in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 22 and 24 against Northern Iowa (61-58) and Western Kentucky (63-61). Sandwiched between those defeats, though, was a 66-60 upset of then-No. 2 Arizona.

Take away SMU’s dominant 74-59 victory last season and the recent games between these two teams have been close, with the Mustangs winning 75-70, 69-61, 64-61 and 68-62. TCU’s last win over SMU came eight years ago in Fort Worth.

“From the veterans to the young guys, everyone is going to be locked in against TCU,” Milton said. “We will have some confidence heading over there from the way we played (against USC) but we are taking nothing for granted.”