FORT WORTH, Texas — Vladimir Brodziansky scored 23 points and had a key assist late as TCU held on for its eighth straight victory, 76-71 over South Dakota on Wednesday night.
The winning streak by the Horned Frogs (3-0) includes their postseason run to the NIT championship last March. They opened this season, coach Jamie Dixon’s second at his alma mater, by winning three games in six days.
“You know there are going to be some tough games and tonight was a good challenge for us,” Brodziansky said.
Brodziansky passed inside the Kouat Noi for a basket with 2:53 left, right after South Dakota had tied the game for the only time after halftime. With a chance to get even after that, Coyotes guard Triston Simpson had his shot blocked by Alex Robinson.
Matt Mooney had 31 points and Tyler Hagedorn 21 for South Dakota (2-1), the defending Summit League champion that was also an NIT team last season.
“We knew when we scheduled them that they were good and that they were well coached,” Dixon said. “We made some plays down the stretch.”
Noi scored 10 of his 14 points before halftime, and Desmond Bane added 10 points.
The Coyotes also had a chance to take the lead with about 4 minutes left but Simpson’s 3-point shot hit the rim and bounced up and over the backboard. Mooney did hit a jumper with 3:07 left that tied the game at 68-all before Brodziansky’s feed to Noi.
“A year ago we were one of the youngest teams in the country, 10 newly eligible players, and a year ago at this time we were just hoping to play well,” coach Craig Smith said. “We gave ourselves a chance and we’ve got to learn and grow from that.”
South Dakota: Hagedorn and Mooney needed some help if the Coyotes were going to knock off a team that is considered by many to be an upper-half Big 12 opponent. The two combined to shoot 20-of-40, and the rest of the team was 8-of-21.
TCU: While inconsistent at times, and never able to put away the Coyotes, TCU did what it was supposed to do in the opening stretch with three straight wins. The Horned Frogs shot only 39 percent from the field (10 of 26) in the second half.
Had South Dakota won its opening-round game in the NIT last March, the Coyotes would have played TCU in the second round. Instead, South Dakota lost to Iowa, which then lost in overtime against the Horned Frogs in the second round of the NIT.
NOI’S QUICK SCORING
Noi scored eight points in an 85-second span before the half, his second 3-pointer in that span tying the game at 17-all. “Coach always tells me to be ready when I’m off the bench,” said Noi. TCU never trailed after his layup with 3:46 left in the first half broke a 30-all tie.
When Smith was an assistant coach at Colorado State, he wrote three different letters to Dixon, who was then still at Pitt. “Not to try to get a job,” Smith said. “I’m a basketball junkie and I like to think I work pretty damn hard, and that guy works his butt off.”
Smith recalls being on the road during summer recruiting, seeing Dixon at 8 a.m. games, then still being in a gym at 10:30 p.m. still watching players.
“I just can’t speak highly enough about Jaime,” Smith said. “He’s one of those guys you’re proud to be associated with in this profession.”
South Dakota plays at home Saturday night against Grambling State.
TCU next plays Monday night at home against Omaha.