FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kenrich Williams was on a breakaway toward the TCU basket when he was suddenly caught from behind and essentially tackled.
That still couldn’t stop the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs from extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 14 games with a 94-83 victory over SMU on Tuesday night.
“It’s just a part of the game. It was just a hard foul,” Williams said. “Got us fired up. It probably helped us a little bit in a way.”
Williams had 27 points to lead five TCU players in double figures, and the Frogs (9-0) were already starting to separate themselves midway through the second half when Williams came up with a steal. The 6-foot-7 guard was going the other way when Ben Emelogu grabbed him from behind and basically dragged him to the ground.
“I liked how our team handled it,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “I think (Emelogu) made the wrong play, but I don’t think it was a malicious play. He grabbed him, he went down hard. … Usually that play turns into a double technical, somebody reacts.”
After officials ruled the flagrant foul, Williams made one free throw and TCU kept possession. Several passes later, Desmond Bane hit a 3-pointer from the left wing in front of the Frogs’ bench that put them up 67-56.
“I’ll just say from my vantage point, it certainly looked like he made a play on the ball,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. “I asked them, the officials, and they said, because he did it from behind. … I thought that hurt us, but that didn’t cost us the game. What cost us the game, we couldn’t get a stop.”
SMU (7-3) was coming off a 17-point home win over then-No.14 Southern Cal just three days earlier.
Kouat Noi had 16 points for TCU, Bane had 14, Jaylen Fisher 11 and Ahmed Hamdy 10. Fisher had nine assists.
Williams, who was 7-of-8 shooting with five 3s, just missed his fifth straight double-double, finishing with nine rebounds. He also had five assists.
TCU led for good after Fisher fed Williams for a 3-pointer with 14 1/2 minutes left to snap a 47-all tie.
Ethan Chargois led five SMU players in double figures with 21 points, while Jarrey Foster had 19. Shake Milton had 18 points, but was only 1-of-8 from 3-point range, while Jimmy Whitt had 12 points before fouling out and Emelogu had 10.
The Mustangs, a 30-win team last season, played at TCU for the first time in four seasons. The campuses are only about 40 miles apart.
“The fever pitch that your guys get for games like (USC), I felt like, and I told our guys, you know how you felt the other night, TCU is going to feel like that for us coming here,” Jankovich said. “To date, on their schedule, this was a big game.”
SMU: Even though the Mustangs shot 52 percent overall (30 of 55), they struggled on 3-pointers by making only 6 of 21 from long range. Their four bench players, including three freshmen, combined for only three points.
TCU: The Frogs keep sharing the basketball. They entered the game ranked fourth nationally with 20 assists per game, and then had 21 assists on 26 field goals. The defending NIT champs are 24-2 in non-conference games under Dixon.
EARLY AND LATE
Williams hit two 3-pointers in the game’s first 61 seconds, part of a game-opening 8-2 run before SMU got within 10-9. Williams then had five quick points, with a layup and another 3. … The last field goal for the Horned Frogs was Hamdy’s layup with 4 1/2 minutes left that made it 78-65. They made 16 of 18 free throws the rest of the way.
SMU will have an extended break during exams before playing New Orleans on Dec. 13. That will start a five-game home stand at Moody Coliseum, where the Mustangs have a 28-game winning streak.
TCU plays No. 22 Nevada on Friday night in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center. It will be the first time Dixon, a North Hollywood native, coaches a game in Los Angeles. His parents still live in the home he grew up in, and his sister is an attorney for Los Angeles County.