FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Desmond Bane’s highest-scoring game of the season was also TCU’s best showing so far, and the senior forward figures it was just in time.
Bane scored a season-high 30 points, and TCU tuned up for the start of Big 12 play with an impressive 87-53 win over George Mason on Monday night.
“Individually, it’s not about me,” Bane said. “It’s about us, and we played well today and we’ve got to build off of this one heading into conference.”
Bane had 21 points at halftime and made five of seven 3-pointers while going 12-of-16 from the field in the third 30-point game of his career. The Horned Frogs (9-3) never trailed after scoring the first 10 points.
TCU recorded season highs with matching numbers of 58% shooting overall and from 3 on the way to its biggest winning margin of the season (34 points).
“This is the team I kind of envisioned,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon, in his fourth season coaching his alma mater. “Obviously, the Big 12 is going to be a grind, as always, but I just kind of liked how we played.”
Jordan Miller led George Mason (11-2) with 15 points and Xavier Johnson had 14, but the Patriots shot 33% as their six-game winning streak ended.
“For the first time all year, we allowed missing our own shots and not being in a good flow offensively to impact our defensive DNA,” George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said.
PJ Fuller was the only other TCU player in double figures with 12. Freshman Diante Smith had a career-high eight points and Kevin Samuel had seven points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
The Patriots were down 33-22 when TCU closed the first half on a 15-4 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Bane in the final minute.
George Mason was never closer than 22 in the second half and trailed by as many as 38 points.
TCU’s Jaire Grayer scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting against his former team. The graduate transfer made 103 starts in four seasons at George Mason and was a double-figure scorer in each of his final three seasons.
“It’s not common for you to transfer from a team and play against that team,” said Grayer, whose only 3 came during the opening 10-0 run. “It was pretty fun for me seeing those guys, playing against them again.”
George Mason: The Patriots had a chance to match their best 13-game start since 1983-84, but instead dropped to 0-2 in true road games. The other loss was 86-63 at No. 15 Maryland, which was in the top 10 at the time.
TCU: The best shooting game of the season came immediately after the worst. The Horned Frogs shot 33% and never led in a 67-59 loss to Xavier eight days earlier. In just their third game in 16 days, the Horned Frogs went up by double digits for good just seven minutes into the game.
The conference openers for both teams are next. George Mason starts Atlantic-10 play at home against VCU on Sunday. TCU finishes a five-game homestand with the Big 12 opener Saturday against Iowa State.