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Nembhard scores 15 to lead balanced TCU over Winthrop 70-60

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Desmond Bane didn’t need a history with Winthrop to know TCU was in for a good test with the nonconference schedule winding down.

The senior leader of the Horned Frogs knew the Eagles had beaten then-No. 18 St. Mary’s and stayed with Duke on the road when the Blue Devils were the nation’s top-ranked team in November.

TCU cruised through most of the second half anyway, with RJ Nembhard leading a balanced effort by scoring 15 points while Bane finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 70-60 win Wednesday night.

Nembhard had six rebounds along with the other double-digit scorers for the Horned Frogs (7-2) -- Jaire Grayer (12 points) and Jaedon LeDee (11) -- in the first meeting between the schools.

“They’re a good team,” Bane said of the Eagles (4-7). “I’m really happy because we came out and did the things coach wanted us to do. We knew they were a physical team.”

Josh Ferguson scored 14 on a rough shooting night for Winthrop, which shot a season-low 32% and was just 8 of 31 from 3-point range.

“When you say we didn't shoot it well, you give credit to TCU, they probably made us not shoot it well,” Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said. “We've proven we can do it against some really good teams, but definitely didn't have our A game or B game. But again I think that's a credit to how they defended us and how they play.”

LeDee, a sophomore transfer from Ohio State, scored 10 of his season high in the first half after Kevin Samuel picked up two early fouls. LeDee missed the first two games waiting for an NCAA eligibility waiver.

“It's weird, not knowing you're going to play and now all of a sudden you're playing,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “He just needs to play. He's a sophomore, but really a freshman as far as playing time. He didn't play many minutes at all.”

Grayer, a graduate transfer from George Mason, boosted an otherwise bad game from long range for TCU by making three of six. The rest of the Horned Frogs were 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.

The Horned Frogs led by as many as 11 in the first half, but Winthrop cut the halftime deficit to 31-26 when Hunter Hale’s 30-footer beat the buzzer. Hale scored 11.

BIG PICTURE

Winthrop: It was another tough non-conference game in a schedule that included the program’s first ranked road win over then-No. 18 St. Mary’s and the loss at Duke. Picked to finish third in the Big South, the Eagles should feel well-prepared for the conference.

TCU: The Horned Frogs now have 41 wins in 47 games in November and December under Dixon. Their two losses this year came by a combined four points, including a last-second loss to Southern California after an 18-point second-half rally by the Trojans. Three non-conference games remain before the Frogs open Big 12 play in early January.

KEY RUN

Bane and Samuel, who scored all eight of his points after halftime, had two buckets apiece during an 11-4 run that restored TCU’s lead to double digits after Winthrop pulled within four midway through the second half.

RARE TEXAS TRIP

It was the Eagles’ first game in the state of Texas since Jan. 2, 2007 at Texas A&M, during a stretch when Winthrop made the NCAA tournament in four consecutive years (2005-2008). It was also Winthrop’s first game against a Big 12 opponent since playing Baylor in the Bahamas on Nov. 19, 2007. The Eagles are 0-5 all-time against teams from Texas.

UP NEXT

Winthrop: The Eagles return to South Carolina to play at Furman on Saturday.

TCU: The Horned Frogs continue a four-game homestand against Lamar on Saturday night.

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