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TCU Basketball Preview: Bradley

TCU travels to Peoria, Illinois tonight to face Bradley in the team's second true road game of the season.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 7:00pm CDT | Location: Carver Arena - Peoria, IL
TV: ESPN3 | Series: BU Leads 5-4 | Game Line: TCU -10

It's amazing the difference that a year can make. About this time in 2014, TCU faced the Bradley Braves in the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic. The Frogs went on to win 57-49, en route to an 18-15 season. The Braves finished the year just 9-24. The two teams will meet again on the hardwood tonight after each endured a rocky offseason that changed the complexion of both programs.

While the tough offseason for the Horned Frogs has been chronicled, the Braves endured an even more tumultuous few months that resulted in a complete overhaul of the team's roster. The team's leading scorer, Warren Jones, transferred to Green Bay. Tramique Sutherland and Auston Barnes, the next best scorers, both graduated. Omari Grier transferred to Rugters. Josh Cunningham transferred to Dayton. Nate Wells transferred to Ball State. Xzavier Taylor transferred to Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne. Anthony Fields transferred to Liberty. And finally, Jermaine Morgan and Jackson Kane graduated. Oh, and head coach Geno Ford was fired, along with his entire staff.

Where'd Ya Go?

TCU vs. Bradley - November 28, 2014

Bradley Braves

Player

Stats

Status

Jermain Morgan

2 points, 3 rebounds

Graduated

Josh Cunningham

7 points, 12 rebounds

Transferred to Dayton

Auston Barnes

19 points, 4 rebounds

Graduated

Omari Grier

0 points, 2 rebounds

Transferred to Rutgers

Ka'Darryl Bell

5 points, 2 rebounds

Active

Mike Shaw

3 points, 0 rebounds

Active

Xzavier Taylor

3 points, 4 rebounds

Transferred to IPFW

Donte Thomas

0 points, 1 rebound

Active

Warren Jones

10 points, 4 rebounds

Transferred to Green Bay

Anthony Fields

DNP

Transferred to Liberty

Tramique Sutherland

DNP

Graduated

Nate Wells

DNP

Transferred to Ball State

TCU Horned Frogs

Player

Stats

Status

Karviar Shepherd

4 points, 2 rebounds

Active

Chris Washburn

9 points, 5 rebounds

Out with Hand Injury

Brandon Parrish

5 points, 2 rebounds

Active

Trey Zeigler

5 points, 5 rebounds

Graduated

Kyan Anderson

10 points, 3 rebounds

Graduated

Kenrich Williams

10 points, 4 rebounds

Out with Knee Injury

Amric Fields

7 points, 1 rebound

Graduated

Hudson Price

7 points, 3 rebounds

Transferred to Charlotte

Chauncey Collins

0 points, 1 rebound

Active

Josh Brown

DNP

Left Program

Christian Gore

DNP

Left Program

Charles Hill, Jr.

DNP

Transferred to Tarleton State

Link Kabadyundi

DNP

Transferred to Blinn CC

As a result, the Braves entered the season under first year head coach Brian Wardle as the youngest team in all of college basketball. Wardle's group features 10 freshmen to go alongside with just three returning players - sophomore Donte Thomas and seniors Ka'Darryl Bell and Mike Shaw. Thomas has been arguably the most complete player for the Braves, as he leads the team in both points, with 10.0 per game, and rebounds, with 5.7 per game. Freshman Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye also averages 10.0 points while pulling down 4.7 rebounds each night.

Freshman Antoine Pittman has been a bright spot for first year head coach Brian Wardle. The Illinois native is averaging 8.2 points per game and has scored in double-figures in four consecutive games, including a career-high 15 against Boise State on Sunday. Another freshman, Callum Barker, is adding 7.3 points and 4.8 boards each game. Luuk van Bree rounds out the starting five, averaging 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Despite the major amount of turnover, one thing has remained consistent for the Braves: the team struggles to score. Last season, the Braves finished 346th out of 351 in scoring with 57.0 points per game. Through 12 games this year, the Braves again find themselves 346th in the nation in scoring, this time averaging 57.8 points per game.

Bradley has dropped 10 straight games against Division I competition since defeating Ball State to open the year. The Braves' only other win came against Maryville University, a Division II program. Most recently, BU fell to Boise State 90-70 in Idaho on Sunday. That contest marked the first time all season that the Braves scored at least 70 points in a game.

The Frogs enter the game 6-4 on the year after knocking off Abilene Christian in the first game at the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena on Sunday. So far this season, the Frogs have remained pretty consistent, knocking off lower rated teams while falling to higher rated teams. Up against a 2-10 Braves team that struggles to score, tonight's game falls into the former category. However, one major roadblock could stand in TCU's way: the fact that this is a road game.

Since TCU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012, the program is 5-28 in true road games, as compared to 32-27 at home and 7-7 in neutral site games. On average, TCU scores about seven fewer and allows about 10 more points per game on the road than at home. However, it is important to note that the Frogs are 4-2 on the road in non-conference play and 1-26 on the road in Big 12 play.

The Frogs will turn to their pair of high-scoring transfer students to reverse their road woes tonight in Peoria. Vladimir Brodziansky has led the team in scoring since arriving on campus. He currently adds 14.9 points while also grabbing 5.9 rebounds per game. The Slovakian native has emerged as one of the best shooters in the nation, averaging 63.4% from the field this season. Fellow transfer Malique Trent is the only other Frog scoring in double-figures, with 12.9 points per game.

Brandon Parrish and Karviar Shepherd, the only two Frogs to score against Bradley last season, each average 9.3 points per game this year. Parrish is the team's top three-point threat while Shepherd is the best rebounder on this year's squad. Mike Williams is expected to get the start at point guard tonight as Chauncey Collins continues to return to 100% following a quad injury suffered early this month.

Finally, while Chris Washburn is nearing a return from a broken pinky finger, it is unlikely that he makes his season debut tonight on the road. December 20 was the date set for his return, however he emerged from the locker room for pregame warmups on Sunday with his hand still in a brace.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Break the Streak

The Frogs have lost eight straight road games after their demoralizing setback in Washington earlier this month. With the team's recent road woes, tonight provides a solid opportunity to pick up a road win and build confidence heading into Big 12 play. The Frogs will open conference play on the road against Oklahoma State on January 2, so it will be important for TCU to put recent history to rest and prove that they can win away from home.

2. Point Guard Play

The point guard position has been an up and down affair for Trent Johnson this season. After starting the first six games of the season, Chauncey Collins has yielded his spot in the starting lineup to Mike Williams for the last four games. However, Collins has still recorded significant minutes over that span. The problem is that Williams and Collins have combined for just 8.5 points per game over the last two contests. Without Malique Trent's 33 points over the last 80 minutes of play, things could have been a lot worse for the Frogs. As Big 12 play looms, it will be important for Collins or Williams to emerge as a legitimate scoring threat alongside Trent.

3. Snap Out of It

Since TCU's 25-point loss to Washington, the Frogs haven't looked the same. The team struggled to find their rhythm in home games against vastly inferior opponents Prairie View A&M and Abilene Christian. With a Bradley team putting up comparably bad numbers as the Frogs' last two foes, it will be big if TCU can snap out of their recent funk and string together a solid 40 minutes of play tonight.

TCU Projected Starters

Bradley Projected Starters

G

Michael Williams

4.8 ppg, 2.6 apg

F

Donte Thomas

10.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg

G

Malique Trent

12.9 ppg, 3.7 apg

F

Luuk van Bree

6.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

9.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg

F

Callum Barker

7.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg

G

Antoine Pittman

8.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg

F

Karviar Shepherd

9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg

G

Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye

10.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg

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

  • TCU has won 24 of its last 28 non-conference games dating back to 2013.
  • TCU is 38-7 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has held 32 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • TCU is 17-4 all-time under Trent Johnson during the month of December.
  • Heading into Wednesday, TCU ranks No. 47 in NCAA in blocks per game, averaging 5.2 a contest.
  • TCU returned three starters from a year ago in Chris Washburn, Kenrich Williams and Karviar Shepherd.
  • With Williams out, Washburn and Shepherd are TCU's captains this season.
  • TCU has played its first 10 games without Washburn and Williams.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week following the season-opener.
  • Michael Williams has started four-straight games.
  • Williams only had two prior starts in his three-year career heading into this season.