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The real season is about to begin for TCU’s men’s basketball program

It took longer than expected, but once again TCU basketball dispatched another overmatched opponent to move to 6-0.

Houston Christian hung around with TCU most of the first half until the Horned Frogs used a 20-2 run at the end of the first half to break the game open. The Horned Frogs ended up winning comfortably 101-64 on Monday night.

Now that the Huskies are out of the way, the real season is finally about to begin for TCU. So far, the Horned Frogs have made a strong early impression.

“We’re capable of doing anything we set our mind to,” forward Emanuel Miller said. “We’re just building off our previous games and we can go as far as we want to.”

TCU has a top-10 scoring offense, averaging 93 points per game while also having a top-50 scoring defense and showing noticeable improvement from the 3-point line.

The Horned Frogs have the nation’s most potent fastbreak offense for a second straight year and had 36 fastbreak points against Houston Christian.

Players like JaKobe Coles and Micah Peavy have taken big steps with increased roles. Coles is the team’s leading scorer and Peavy is averaging a career-high 13.2 points per game.

Transfer guard Jameer Nelson Jr. and Avery Anderson have helped fill the huge void left behind by Mike Miles Jr. and Damion Baugh. After being short-handed in the frontcourt a year ago with Eddie Lampkin’s injuries and leaving the program, now the Horned Frogs have three centers they can lean on in a pinch.

All of this sounds like a recipe for a March Madness contender, but as good as the first impression has been we still don’t know a lot about this squad because of the competition.

According to KenPom.com, the top college basketball analytics site, TCU currently has the worst strength of schedule in the country. TeamRankings.com has the Horned Frogs 355th out of 362 teams.

If you thought the schedule felt weak, that’s because it is, but that’s about to change starting in December.

“Our schedule is kind of back loaded,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “I told our guys our strength of schedule the rest of the way is ninth in the country. So we’ve got road games, we’ve got neutral games, we’ve had our run now we’re going to play on the road.”

TCU deserves some credit for handling its business in November. In a sport that produces the most upsets on a daily basis, that’s an achievement.

Remember last year that the Horned Frogs were upset by Northwestern State and that was probably the difference in TCU getting a better seed in March.

This year TCU shouldn’t have to worry about any ugly losses and now the December slate will begin to show us who this team really is. The next three games for the Horned Frogs will be against Power Six competition starting with a road contest at Georgetown, then a matchup with Clemson in Canada and then a NCAA Tournament rematch with Arizona State on Dec. 16 at Dickies Arena.

Then it’s off to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i which could feature a Quad 1 opportunity against Nevada.

Things are about to get and when asked about the challenge ahead Nelson couldn’t help but smile.

“We’re very excited, we had to handle business this month it wasn’t to exciting,” Nelson said. “But it’s part of it and we have to get ready for Georgetown.”

The Hoyas are in the midst of a three-game winning streak in the first year under Ed Cooley, who coached against TCU last year when the Horned Frogs defeated Providence on Nov. 30, 2022. The win over the Friars helped jumpstart the Horned Frogs to a strong start in Big 12 play.

Now Cooley’s Hoyas will be the first road test for TCU and it’ll be the first true learning experience for a talented team that hasn’t dealt with much adversity yet.

It’s in those moments the Horned Frogs will really find out if they have the makings of a contender. Dixon has coached quite a few of those teams and believes this unit has the capability as well.

“We’re going to hit some adversity, we’re going to play on the road and get into some foul trouble, maybe have a guy miss a game” Dixon said. “Then you’ll see how you handle it, but we do have the pieces.”

We’re about to find out how good those pieces really are.