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TCU Basketball Preview: Illinois State

The Frogs look to rebounds from last night's loss to Rhode Island this afternoon in the Third Place Game of the Cancun Challenge.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 5:00pm CDT | Location: Hard Rock Riviera Maya - Cancun, Mexico
TV: CBS College Sports | Series: First Meeting | Game Line: ISU -2.0

For the third consecutive game, TCU will be matched up against a solid mid-major team that participated in last year's NIT. The Illinois State Redbirds finished 22-13 a year ago, defeating Green Bay before falling to top-seeded Old Dominion in the second round of the NIT. The Frogs and Redbirds will meet today in the Third Place Game of the 2015 Cancun Challenge after Rhode Island defeated TCU and Maryland defeated Illinois State in the Semifinals yesterday.

The Redbirds have struggled somewhat on the offensive end as they are forced to replace their top two scorers from a year ago. In five games this season, ISU is averaging 66.4 points per game on just 41.3% shooting from the field. DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell leads the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game on nearly 50% shooting from the field. Lee Paris has been a spark on the offensive end as well. He averages 10.8 points per game and leads the team in assists 23. No other Redbird has more than eight. Deontae Hawkins leads the team in rebounds with 5.2 while also scoring 10.2 points per game.

The Redbirds enter the game with a 2-3 record on the season. Illinois State defeated Southern Indiana in their season opener before falling on the road at San Diego State. ISU would return home for three games, defeating Morehead State and Houston Baptist while losing to South Dakota State. Despite leading for much of their contest against Maryland last night, the Terrapins stormed back in the game's final minutes to capture a 77-66 win.

Across the court, TCU will enter this afternoon's game with a 2-2 record. The Frogs got off to a hot start this season, defeating Southeastern Louisiana and Houston Baptist before cooling off in losses to South Dakota State and Rhode Island. In their first two contests, TCU averaged 90.0 points on 49.1% shooting. However, in their last two games, the Frogs are averaging just 63.5 points on 36.2% shooting. TCU also won the rebounding battle in the first two games before being out-rebounded by South Dakota State and finishing even with Rhode Island.

Brandon Parrish was the lone bright spot against Rhode Island last night. The junior guard scored a team-high 13 points and didn't miss a shot from the field. On the season, he is averaging 11.8 points per game, second on the team behind Vladimir Brodziansky's 12.8 points. Brodziansky also leads the team in rebound with 7.0 per game. The Frogs' two point guards, Malique Trent and Chauncey Collins, are each averaging double-figures in scoring.

Karviar Shepherd and Devonta Abron have each been productive this season. Shepherd adds 9.5 points and grabs 6.3 rebounds per game. Off the bench, Abron is contributing 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He has been the Frogs' biggest weapon outside of the starting lineup.

The Frogs match up well against Illinois State and should be able to find some success on the offensive end. ISU's opponents have scored 70.6 points per game on 43.8% shooting from the field. The Redbirds are also being out-rebounded by about seven boards per game. With success on the glass and a good day from the field, TCU should be able to jump back on the winning track.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Malique Trent

The transfer from New Mexico Junior College has had an interesting start to his TCU career. He scored eight points in his debut despite sitting for much of the game in foul trouble. He only saw 17 minutes in the contest against Houston Baptist, scoring 12 points on 50% shooting from the field. He then led a major comeback charge for the Frogs against South Dakota State, scoring 18 points, including 13 in the second half. In 38 minutes of play last night, he scored just seven points on 30% shooting. On the season, he has attempted a team-high 47 shot attempts, but is shooting just 31.9%, the lowest mark of any player with at least 20 shot attempts on the team. Trent was a prolific scorer both in high school and at NMJC. There's no reason to think that his shooting percentage won't improve, and once it does, the Frogs' offense will see a nice boost.

2. Foul Issues

Entering the game last night, TCU was struggling with foul problems. Against Rhode Island, the Frogs committed a season-high 26 fouls, resulting in 36 free throw attempts and 21 points scored for the Rams. Nearly one-quarter of the total points scored by URI last night came from the charity stripe. Additionally, three Frogs fouled out of the contest, resulting in a bench that was just two players deep for the final minutes of the game. With slight struggles on the defensive end on top of some depth concerns, the Frogs can't afford to be committing many fouls.

3. Control the Glass

As was mentioned previously, the Frogs won the rebounding battle in their two wins over Southeastern Louisiana and Houston Baptist. However, TCU was rebounded by South Dakota State before finishing even with Rhode Island. Winning the rebounding battle, especially on the defensive end, creates more possessions and opportunities for the offense. With a handful of talented rebounders, it will be important for TCU to get back on the positive side of the battle on the glass this afternoon.

TCU Projected Starters

Illinois State Projected Starters

G

Chauncey Collins

10.0 ppg, 2.5 apg

F

MiKyle McIntosh

8.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg

G

Malique Trent

11.3 ppg, 3.3 apg

F

Deontae Hawkins

10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

11.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg

G

Paris Lee

10.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

12.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg

G

Tony Wills

2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg

F

Karviar Shepherd

9.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg

G

DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell

15.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Here are other game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

  • TCU had won 20-straight non-conference games dating back to 2013-14 prior to falling to SDSU.
  • TCU is 34-7 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has held 30 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • TCU is 19-7 all-time under Trent Johnson during the month of November.
  • Heading into Tuesday night, TCU ranked No. 15 in NCAA in blocks per game, averaging 7.3 a contest.
  • TCU posted the 11th most free throws made in school history in its season-opener with 36.
  • TCU returns two starters from a year ago in Chris Washburn and Karviar Shepherd.
  • Washburn and Shepherd are TCU's captains this season.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week last week.
  • Brodziansky joins former Frog Trey Zeigler as the only TCU player to earn the honor under Trent Johnson.
  • Shepherd scored his 500th career point last Thursday night against Houston Baptist.
  • Brandon Parrish has scored in double-figures in three out of the four games this season.