FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — With Kouat Noi and Jaylen Fisher back on the court and making shots for TCU, the Horned Frogs looked more like the team they expected to be this season — even after falling out of the Top 25.
Noi scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and made five 3-pointers while Fisher scored 12 points on four 3s as the Frogs beat Eastern Michigan 87-69 on Monday night. The win came after they dropped out of the new poll earlier in the day.
“They were picked as a top 20 team in the country, they hadn’t played like it,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “Those two guys being out is the reason why, and we knew if they played and had their feet up under them they would be able to do some damage.”
Neither Noi or Fisher started, but TCU (4-1) went on a game-turning 31-10 run not long after they entered together about 5 1/2 minutes into the game.
Both had missed the first three games because of right knee issues before making their debuts last week when the Frogs, then ranked 18th, lost 73-64 at home to Lipscomb. Fisher started but played only seven minutes that night because he didn’t feel right, and Noi was 1-of-7 shooting (all 3s).
“It felt like I was supposed to be doing this, all the work I’ve put in, I feel like I was supposed to be here,” said Fisher, who made three long 3s in a 2 1/2-minute span to help get the Frogs rolling against EMU after their slow start.
Fisher, the junior point guard, was limited to 17 games last season before a torn meniscus in his right knee last January. He needed arthroscopic surgery on that same knee in September.
Eastern Michigan (4-4) led 11-2 after Paul Jackson rebounded a Fisher miss, leading to Damari Parris’ alley-oop pass to Boubacar Toure for a dunk.
Kevin Samuel’s dunk on the opening possession was TCU’s only points in the first nearly eight minutes of the game. The Frogs then missed seven shots in a row until another dunk by Samuel started the big run that turned a nine-point deficit into a 12-point lead before halftime.
Noi scored 22 of his points in TCU’s 52-point second half against the Eagles zone defense.
“Honestly I’m always comfortable shooting the ball no matter what, but it was a good game today,” Noi said.
Toure had 20 points and 12 rebounds for EMU, while Jackson had 18 points and six assists.
Samuel had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Desmond Bane and JD Miller each had 11 for TCU.
EMU: The Eagles have lost three in a row, a streak that began when they scored only four points in the first half at Rutgers last week. Once their early nine-point lead was gone, the Eagles never led again.
TCU: Fisher and Noi being back is a boost for a team that has already had seven players make their TCU debuts this season.
HE SAID IT
“We’re a team in the making. It’s been pretty obvious to me for a while. Guys have to get their legs underneath them in situations and play with each other,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
The Frogs had assists on 31 of their 34 baskets. They made 11-of-26 3-pointers while shooting 61 percent overall (34 of 56).
Eastern Michigan plays Saturday at Northeastern in Boston, then has three in a row at home before going to No. 2 Kansas after Christmas. The Eagles lost at then-No. 1 Duke two weeks ago.
TCU wraps up its season-opening six-game homestand Friday night against Central Michigan. The Horned Frogs only go about 40 miles for their first road game on Dec. 5 at SMU.
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