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TCU Basketball Preview: Washington

The Frogs travel to the Pacific Northwest tonight for their last challenging non-conference matchup before Big 12 play begins next month.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 10:00pm CDT | Location: Alaska Airlines Arena - Seattle, WA
TV: Pac-12 Network | Series: TCU Leads 1-0 | Game Line: UW -5.5

In what will be the team's final difficult challenge before Big 12 play begins in January, the Frogs travel to Seattle tonight to face the Washington Huskies. After a 16-15 finish to the season last year, and a complete overhaul of the roster, all signs pointed to Washington struggling through a rebuilding year. However, led by an emerging star in Andrew Andrews and the 16th-ranked recruiting class in the country, the Huskies enter tonight's game 5-2 on the year, looking to change perceptions by winning now.

Husky guard Andrew Andrews has entered the 2015-16 season as one of the hottest players in the country. He led his team in an 87-69 win over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday night, scoring his third double-double in the last four games, which includes a 30-point, 13-rebound effort against Charlotte last week. Andrews has unquestionably been leader for Washington through the first month of the season. He averages 20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. His 15 points against Fullerton this weekend was a season low for Andrews. He will enter the game against TCU as arguably the best individual player that the Frogs have been tasked to stop his season.

Two very talented freshmen stand behind Andrews in the Washington starting lineup. Dejounte Murray is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game on over 40% shooting from the field. His ability to set up plays and distribute the ball has been impressive so far this season, leading to a team-high 4.0 assists per game. Murray has been a force on the boards as well, pulling down 7.4 rebounds each night. Marquese Chriss has been shooting lights out as of late, leading to an average of 12.6 points per game. His 50.8% shooting from the field is tops on the team.

Another new Husky, Malik Dime, has been a force on the defensive end. He enters tonight's game averaging 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, a mark that leads the team. Dime's scoring has yet to round into form. Through six games, he is averaging just 5.0 points per game on 37.5% shooting, however his presence has been felt on the defensive end. Dime is in his first season at Washington after transferring in from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.

Led by Andrews and the duo of hot-shooting freshmen, the Washington offense is clicking on all cylinders, averaging nearly 82 points per game. The Huskies also pull down an average of 48.0 rebounds per game, the third most in the country. The Frogs are certainly going to have their hands full with Washington tonight.

A big key to neutralizing the Huskies will likely be the play of Vladimir Brodziansky and Malique Trent. Brodziansky has been the most productive Frog to date, averaging 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The native of Slovakia will set the tone for TCU on both sides of the court. Brodziansky has scored in double-figures in six of the seven games this season, and the Frogs will likely need another big performance from him tonight.

Trent will also be a significant factor in this contest. With Chauncey Collins' status still up in the air after suffering a quad injury last week, Trent will be the go-to point guard in Seattle.  He has shown flashes of brilliance during his young TCU career, but inconsistent shooting performances and turnovers have overshadowed some of his accomplishments. Trent is a great shooter, and he will need to be on his game tonight.

Another deciding factor could be the play of Brandon Parrish and Karviar Shepherd. Both players are averaging near 10 points per game and have been fairly consistent performers through the first few weeks of the season. If either of these two are tasked with stopping Andrews inside, their defensive efforts might be more important in this game than their offensive production. In reality, the Frogs are going to have to play a very complete game tonight to come away with a win. TCU will need significant contributions from all five positions to shut down Washington.

Tonight's game will be a homecoming for Trent Johnson, who was raised in Seattle and attended the city's Franklin High School. While Johnson left Seattle to play college basketball at Boise State, four of his siblings graduated from the University of Washington. After his playing career, Johnson was an assistant at Washington for three seasons under Lynn Nance from 1989-1992.

With tonight's contest, the Frogs have one last chance to make a statement before conference play begins in January. The end of the calendar year is a cakewalk for TCU. After today, the Frogs have four remaining non-conference games before Big 12 play begins. The combined record of those four opponents is 4-28, and includes two winless opponents in Prairie View A&M and Delaware State.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Limit Andrew Andrews

As was mentioned above, Andrew Andrews has been the Huskies' most prolific player through the first few weeks of the season. He is going to score points, and he is going to grab rebounds, but it will be important for the TCU defense to keep those numbers in check. Andrews has been a double-double machine as of late. If the Frogs can somehow keep him from accomplishing that feat tonight, they will be set up nicely to compete deep into the game. The TCU defense has excelled at altering shots and disrupting offensive flow thus far, but Andrews will provide the toughest individual challenge that the Frogs have seen this season.

2. Crash the Boards

Washington enters the game as one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, averaging 48 boards per game. However, they are also giving up nearly 42 rebounds per game to their opposition. It will be imperative for the Frogs to win the 50-50 battles off the glass. This stat can be stale sometimes, but I think it applies here: TCU is 4-0 this season and 31-15 under Trent Johnson when out-rebounding its opponents. Winning the rebounding battle tonight will create more offensive opportunities and give TCU the chance to steal a win in the Pacific Northwest.

3. Make a Statement

So far this season, the Frogs have beat the teams that they were supposed to beat and lost to the teams that they were supposed to lose to. This is best reflected when the records of the two groups are compared. The teams that beat TCU are a combined 18-4 while the teams that TCU beat are a combined 9-24. With the exception of SMU's postseason ban, the three teams that defeated TCU are all legitimate NCAA Tournament contenders. While there's no shame in losing to higher ranked opponents, the Frogs are nearly out of opportunities to pick up a quality non-conference win. After tonight, the last formidable non-con opponent for TCU is Tennessee, who the Frogs won't see until the Big 12/SEC Challenge in late January. With games against Prairie View A&M, Abilene Christian, Bradley, and Delaware State left to close out the year, tonight is the last chance to make a statement before conference play begins.

TCU Projected Starters

Washington Projected Starters

G

Michael Williams

4.7 ppg, 2.6 apg

F

Marquese Chriss

12.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg

G

Malique Trent

11.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg

F

Matisse Thybulle

4.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

10.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg

F

Noah Dickerson

7.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg

G

Dejounte Murray

14.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg

F

Karviar Shepherd

9.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg

G

Andrew Andrews

20.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg

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

  • TCU has won 22 of its last 25 non-conference games dating back to 2013.
  • TCU is 36-7 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has held 31 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • TCU is 15-3 all-time under Trent Johnson during the month of December.
  • Heading into Tuesday, TCU ranks No. 21 in NCAA in blocks per game, averaging 5.86 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 seven 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.