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TCU Basketball Preview: Colgate

The Frogs host the Colgate Raiders this afternoon, looking to rebound from Wednesday's loss to SMU.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 7:00pm CDT | Location: TCU Recreation Center - Fort Worth, TX
TV: FOX Sports Southwest | Series: TCU Leads 2-1 | Game Line: None

Amid the toughest stretch of TCU's non-conference schedule this season, the Frogs will have a good chance to jump back into the win column tonight against the Colgate Raiders. After a 1-3 stretch against four teams that participated in the postseason a year ago, TCU enters the contest with a 3-3 record. Across the court, the Raiders have struggled to perform consistently this season and enter the game 2-4 on the year.

Heading into the season, it was clear that the TCU coaching staff was focused on improving the team's non-conference schedule. With games against 2015 NIT participants South Dakota State, Rhode Island, and Illinois State as well as nationally ranked SMU under their belt, tonight's contest against a struggling Colgate team provides the Frogs with a solid chance to regroup, apply some of the lessons learned through the first six games, and reenter the win column.

Vladimir Brodziansky has been the undeniable leader for this year's TCU team. His list of accomplishments on this young season is quite impressive. Brodziansky leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. His 12 blocks this season are also a team high, and he is shooting 59.6% from the field, more than six percent higher than the next closest Frog. As if that wasn't enough, the Slovakian transfer student has committed just eight turnovers and 12 fouls, the fewest of TCU's five starters.

Malique Trent is also rounding into form during his first season wearing the Purple and White. Through six games, he is averaging 12.8 points 2.7 assists each night. Karviar Shepherd is the Frogs' only other double-digit scorer, averaging 10.2 points per game. Shepherd also records an impressive 6.5 rebounds each night. Brandon Parrish has been another weapon for Trent Johnson's squad, scoring 9.5 points per game on 53.1% shooting from the field.

For Colgate, the undisputed leader so far has been Austin Tillotson. The senior guard is the team's top scorer with 11.5 points per game. As the only Raider that averages over 30 minutes per game, Tillotson acts as the team's quarterback, not only scoring but setting up his teammates. He has dished out a team-high 37 assists this season - the next closest Raider has just 10.

Jordan Swopshire is the only other player for Colgate averaging in double figures, with 10.5 points per game. He started the first four games this season before yielding his spot in the lineup to Tim Rivard, who averages 9.7 points per game on 52.5% shooting. Rivard is also second on the team in rebounds with 4.8 per game. Alex Ramon is another top scorer for Colgate, adding 9.0 points each night.

The fifth and final impact player for the Colgate Raiders is Malcolm Regisford. The freshman center leads the team in rebounds with 7.0 per game and has been lethal on the defensive end. Regisford will no doubt provide the Frogs the biggest challenge on the boards tonight.

The Raiders have struggled to score consistently this season. On the year, the team is averaging 68.3 points per game, mainly thanks to a 98-point outburst against Cornell in mid-November. That effort marked one of just two times that the team has surpassed the 70-point mark this season. TCU will have a chance tonight to exploit the Raiders' offensive weaknesses. The Frogs' defense has been solid thus far, giving up only 69.5 points per game on 41.9% shooting.

Tonight's contest has been moved from the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center to the TCU University Recreation Center because of the 2015 Cowtown Classic, an annual high school girls basketball tournament featuring teams from around the Metroplex. The Schollmaier Arena is set to open two weeks from tomorrow.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Who Leads the Charge

In five of TCU's six games this season, a different Frog has scored around 20 points. Vladimir Brodziansky led the charge in the season opener with 19, Devonta Abron came off the bench to drop 19 against Houston Baptist, Malique Trent's 18-point day kept TCU within arm's length of South Dakota State, Trent then scored 19 against Illinois State, and finally Brodziansky led the Frogs with 18 points against SMU. While developing a balanced offensive attack is important, having a player step up and lead the charge is equally important. Against this Colgate defense, there is a chance that we see another Frog go off for a big night.

2. Behind the Arc

One similarity between each of TCU's three losses this season has been poor shooting from behind the arc. The Frogs are shooting about 10% lower from deep in losses as compared to wins. Against South Dakota State and SMU particularly, TCU settled for too many quick shots that ultimately decided the game. Watch for the Frogs to open up the offense tonight and try to work the ball inside before launching it from deep.

3. Put the Hammer Down

TCU has really struggled in the last three minutes of games this season, being outscored 55-37. The Frogs led both Rhode Island and SMU in the final minutes before falling in each game. In three losses, TCU has been outscored 33-10 in the final three minutes. In all likelihood, this is partly the result of attrition. The Frogs are only 10 players deep, and only eight of those 10 contribute significant minutes. With Chris Washburn expected to return from injury on December 20, it will be important for the Frogs to weather the storm until help arrives.

TCU Projected Starters

Colgate Projected Starters

G

Chauncey Collins

9.3 ppg, 2.7 apg

G

Austin Tillotson

11.5 ppg, 6.2 apg

G

Malique Trent

12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg

G

Alex Ramon

9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

9.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg

G

Jordan Robertson

6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

10.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg

F

Tom Rivard

9.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F

Karviar Shepherd

10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg

F

Malcolm Regisford

5.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg

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

  • TCU has won 21 of its last 24 non-conference games dating back to 2013.
  • TCU is 35-7 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 14-3 all-time under Trent Johnson during the month of December.
  • Heading into Saturday, TCU ranks No. 19 in NCAA in blocks per game, averaging 6.0 a contest.
  • TCU posted the 11th most free throws made in school history in its season-opener with 36.
  • TCU returns 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 six games without Washburn and Williams.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week following the season-opener.
  • Brodziansky joins former Frog Trey Zeigler as the only TCU player to earn the honor under Trent Johnson.
  • Shepherd scored his 500th career point against Houston Baptist.