Kevin Samuel scored 16 points and tied his career high with 18 rebounds to help TCU to a 70-65 victory over Tulsa on Saturday evening in a first-round game in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
The Horned Frogs will face Liberty, a 78-62 winner over South Carolina in the tournament’s other first-round game, in the championship final on Sunday afternoon. Tulsa will square off against South Carolina in the consolation game.
The game was tied at 57 with 4:46 to play but TCU, which was up by as many as 10 in the second half, never gave up the lead again. Samuel had a pair of free throws over the ensuing three minutes, and Mike Miles and Taryn Todd poured in 3-pointers to stake the Horned Frogs to a 65-60 lead with 1:09 remaining.
RJ Nembhard then converted two free throws with 25 seconds to play, and TCU was able to hold on for the win.
Miles added 12 points for the Horned Frogs (2-0), with Francisco Farabello adding 10.
Tulsa’s Brandon Rachal led all scorers with 19 points. Keyshawn Embery-Simpson added 14 and Elijah Joiner scored 10 points for Tulsa, which was playing its season opener.
TCU led 36-30 after a first half that featured big runs for both teams.
Tulsa swept to a 20-10 lead on the strength of an 18-5 spurt that was capped by a stepback jumper by Joiner with 10:24 left in the half. But the Horned Frogs answered with a 17-2 run over the ensuing six minutes to take a 27-22 lead with 4:38 left in the half.
Samuel led all scorers with nine points and rebounders with 12 in the half. Embry-Simpson paced the Golden Hurricane with seven points in the half, as Tulsa outshot the Horned Frogs 44.4 percent to 38.7 percent in the half.
TCU extended its lead to 10 points, at 44-34, on a three-point play by Samuel at the 17:11 mark of the second half.