By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
FORT WORTH — Damion Baugh flew to the rim and threw down a thunderous dunk over a Jackson State defender, as the TCU fans in Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena rose to their feet.
Baugh hopped up and down, TCU’s bench went wild, and Eddie Lampkin did his patented pat on the top of his head in celebration.
The play came late in the second half of the Frogs’ 78-51 blowout of Jackson State, but it captured the essence of Tuesday night’s contest.
The Frogs are reaching full speed.
The momentum is apparent as they sit at 7-1 through the first eight games, despite the fact that they’ve started eight different lineups already this season.
Injury bug continues
The Frogs were once again hampered with injuries, as Mike Miles Jr. and Emanuel Miller both missed the game. Miles is currently battling the flu, while Miller’s back spasms once again got the best of him.
Shahada Wells and Micah Peavy started in their place. Wells scored 14 points to go with three assists, while Peavy added nine points.
Rondel Walker played just four minutes as he deals with an undisclosed injury as well.
Coach Jamie Dixon has been challenged by the consistent injuries and illnesses, saying that he rarely knows who is available to practice or play on any given day.
“We didn’t know who was starting today again,” Dixon said. “I think the Iowa game was the only game I’ve gone into where I knew who was starting the night before. This game, I had no idea who was playing or even starting. I’ve never had anything like it.”
Coles lights it up
Coles filled up the scoresheet from the get go, scoring a game-high and career-high 21 points and pacing the Frogs as they got out to a 16-point first-half lead. Coles was hot from deep and aggressive on defense, knocking down three 3-pointers and blocking three shots.
Afterward he attributed his night, and really his good season, to confidence.
“I had a lot of confidence going into the summer and, you know, with all the work that I put in all of a sudden, with my teammates encouraging me and being there for me and always making sure I’m ready,” he said. “That’s the most important thing to do.”
Coles is shooting 35.3 percent on 3-pointers this season, up from 28.2 percent last season, and he’s rebounding at a much higher rate in his expanded role.
Coles was 3 for 5 from 3-point range Tuesday, and he tied Lampkin for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Baugh is still rounding into form following a six-game suspension to open the season, but he’s quickly getting back up to speed. In similar fashion to last season, Baugh became the primary ball-handler with Miles out of the game, and he excelled in the role.
He scored 15 points, including the highlight-reel dunk, to go with six rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. He also drew eight fouls, and shot 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Baugh is an essential piece of TCU’s roster, and he reminded everyone that he’s capable of leading the team in Miles’ absence.
Rebounding a concern?
Dixon has voiced a concern following multiple games this year that TCU isn’t rebounding at the rate it should. That was the case again Tuesday, as Jackson State out-rebounded the Frogs 45-39.
While Dixon still feels there’s room for improvement, he chalks up the rebounding differential to turnovers and the Frogs missing shots.
“If they have 29 turnovers, it’s hard to make up for that,” Dixon said. “And then when you miss as many shots as we do to that has something to do with it, because the defense is going to get more rebounds. So it’s a it’s a couple of things. … I still believe we can rebound better. But that’s a big component of it.”
TCU’s next game is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday at Dickies Arena, where the Frogs will play SMU on what is technically a neutral court.
Jamie Plunkett, email@example.com