FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU immediately found its new home inside the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena much to its liking, as the team made its first five shots en route to a wire-to-wire 80-69 victory over Abilene Christian on Sunday.
Sophomore Malique Trent scored a career-high 24 points to ensure that the $72 million arena’s long-awaited debut would end with a TCU victory.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Trent said of the on-campus facility, which was originally scheduled to open prior to the season, but had its grand opening delayed by a little over a month.
Trent was 8 of 13 from the floor and made all seven of his shots inside the 3-point line. He is just the sixth different TCU player under coach Trent Johnson to score 20 points in a game and the first this season.
Trent was coming off a 1-for-10 shooting night in his last game.
“It was just my time,” Trent said. “I’ve been waiting patiently. I’ve struggled the last couple games. This game, I let the game come to me.”
TCU (6-4), which connected on nine of its first 10 attempts from the field and established a 21-7 lead six minutes in, wasn’t able to make the contest against Abilene Christian (4-7) a complete runaway in a highly-anticipated game for his players.
“I had a concern that emotionally they were going to be at a fever pitch but then there’d come a point in time where we’d have to settle down and play basketball,” Johnson said. “And that’s sort of where we had a lull. Emotionally we were ready to go and then we hit that wall a little bit.”
The Horned Frogs led 40-30 at halftime after assisting on 11 of 15 made field goals, while committing just two turnovers.
With six minutes left, TCU had built a 16-point lead, one off its largest advantage of the game, but the Wildcats clawed back to within seven in the final minute. TCU iced the game by converting 7 of 8 free-throw attempts in the final 60 seconds.
“They cause a lot of problems. It wasn’t a surprise to me,” Johnson said. “They’re not afraid. I knew we were going to have our hands full. It’s a nice win.”
Vladimir Brodziansky finished with 19 points, while Karviar Shepherd added 13 and six rebounds for TCU.
Abilene Christian was good on just 4 of 19 3-point field goals. Jaren Lewis led the Wildcats with 16 points. Jaylen Franklin had 13, while Duran Porter and Jovan Crnic each posted 10.
The Horned Frogs led by double digits for more than 20 straight minutes before the Wildcats trimmed the lead to six, 48-42, with 12:57 remaining in the game.
Abilene Christian: Abilene Christian is 0-17 against TCU in a series that dates back to 1915. . This was the middle game in a stretch of three games in five days. . The loss was the Wildcats’ fifth in their last six games.
TCU: All six of TCU’s wins this season have been by double digits. . Vladimir Brodziansky scored the first four points in the new arena. . Including leading 12-3 Sunday, the Horned Frogs have outscored opponents 84-46 in the first four minutes of games this season.
HOME IS WHERE THE POINTS ARE
TCU’s 80 points were its most since scoring 90 against Houston Baptist on Nov. 19. The Horned Frogs have averaged 78.0 points per game in seven home games compared to 66.0 in the three games outside Fort Worth.
CHECKING OUT THE DIGS
TCU had just two practices plus a game-day shoot-around in the Schollmaier Arena prior to its game against Abilene Christian. “It’s unbelievable. The kids are very appreciative, very thankful of all that’s been done to get to this point,” Johnson said.
Prairie View A&M plays at Drake on Tuesday.
TCU plays at Bradley on Wednesday.