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TCU Basketball Preview: Kansas State Wildcats

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The Frogs begin postseason play tonight in Kansas City against the Kansas State Wildcats in the First Round of the Big 12 Tournament.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 6:00pm CDT | Location: Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO
TV: ESPNU | Series: KSU leads 8-3 | Game Line: KSU -2.0

The TCU Horned Frogs have officially reached March Madness. The Frogs tipoff against the Kansas State Wildcats tonight in the First Round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. TCU enters the game as the 9-seed while the Wildcats are the 8-seed. The Frogs finished the regular season at 17-14 and 4-14 in conference play, their best record since joining the Big 12. Kansas State enters the postseason at 15-16 and 8-10 in Big 12 play. This marks the first time that the Wildcats have finished the regular season under 0.500 since 2003.

After winning three of five in mid-February, the Frogs have dropped their last three games by an average of about 10 points per game. The TCU offense has really come to life as of late. In the last seven games, the Frogs are 3-4 but are averaging about 70 points per game and have exceeded their average Big 12 shooting percentage of each of those seven games.

Senior leadership has guided TCU to offensive success in the last couple of weeks. Kyan Anderson, Trey Zeigler, and Amric Fields have accounted for 209 of the Frogs' 349 points over the last five games, nearly 60% of total production. TCU will rely on these three seniors tonight if they are to knock off Kansas State and advance to the Quarterfinals. Kenrich Williams has been another bright spot for TCU recently. The sophomore forward is averaging over 10 points and eight rebounds per game over the last four contests.

For Kansas State, Marcus Foster leads all scorers with 12.9 points per game. After lighting up the Frogs for 23 points in the first meeting, TCU shut him down in the second meeting. Foster scored just five points on 1/6 shooting from the field in Fort Worth. A big key for TCU tonight will be whether or not they can contain Foster's scoring ability once again. Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson are Kansas State's other two big scoring threats, averaging 11.3 and 11.1 points per game respectively. These two led the way for the Wildcats in Fort Worth, combining for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

Another weapon for Bruce Weber's squad is Tre Harris. Despite averaging about 10.0 minutes per game, Harris has proven the ability to come off the bench and score points. Against TCU in Fort Worth, Harris scored 14 points on 6/8 shooting in 21 minutes of play. He could provide a spark off the bench for the Wildcats tonight.

The Wildcats are dealing with some off-the-court issues that could be a distraction tonight. Sophomore guard Jevon Thomas did not travel with the team to their season finale against Texas. Later that night, Bruce Weber announced that Thomas had been dismissed from the team. However, earlier this week, amid rumors that other players might transfer because of the way Weber handled the Thomas situation, he was reinstated. Nino Williams also missed the team's game in Austin due to undisclosed personal reasons. On Monday, Weber said that he expects both Thomas and Williams to be available tonight.

The Frogs are looking for their first ever victory in the Big 12 Tournament. TCU is 0-2 in the event since joining the conference, competing as the #10 seed each of the last two seasons. The Frogs are 2-0 all-time against Kansas State in the postseason, beating the Wildcats in the 1968 NCAA Tournament and the 1999 NIT.

The winner of tonight's contest will keep their NIT hopes alive for another day. Both Kansas State and TCU are hoping to get hot at the right time and earn a bit to the postseason tournament. With a loss, Kansas State's season is likely over, as no team under 0.500 has ever been invited to the NIT. For the Frogs, a loss would likely mean a bid to the College Basketball Invitational is inevitable.

The prize for the team that comes away victorious tonight is a Quarterfinal date with the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks at approximately 1:30pm tomorrow afternoon.

TCU Projected Starters

Kansas State Projected Starters

G

Kyan Anderson

13.6 ppg, 4.3 apg

F

Stephen Hurt

4.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg

G

Trey Zeigler

9.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg

F

Thomas Gipson

11.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg

F

Kenrich Williams

8.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg

F

Wesley Iwundu

5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg

F

Chris Washburn

6.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg

G

Marcus Foster

12.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg

C

Karviar Shephed

6.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg

G

Nigel Johnson

5.2 ppg, 1.7 apg

Here are a couple of other game notes, provided by GoFrogs.com:

  • TCU was receiving votes last month in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
  • The last time TCU was receiving votes in February came during the 1998-99 campaign.
  • TCU is 16-3 this season when leading at the half.
  • TCU is 31-7 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has now held 30 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • In its last three home outings prior to Iowa State, TCU held Oklahoma State, K-State & Texas Tech to 55 points or below.
  • TCU has out-rebounded its opposition 20 times this season.
  • TCU has already bettered its win total from a year ago and 2011-12.
  • TCU played its 12th ranked opponent in 18 games last Saturday vs. Iowa State.
  • Kyan Anderson is No. 6 all-time in scoring in program history with 1,605 points.
  • Anderson passed TCU great Kurt Thomas in points for a career vs. K-State.
  • Anderson moved into No. 1 all-time in program history in steals against Oklahoma State with now 167.
  • Kenrich Williams has scored in double-figures in 15 of the 31 games this season.
  • Williams had his second double-double of the season against Texas Tech.
  • Williams had a career-high 16 rebounds against Texas Tech.
  • Williams scored a career-high 17 points, while dishing a career-high seven assists vs. Iowa State.
  • Trey Zeigler has scored in double-figures in 13 Big 12 games this year after scoring 14 vs. the Cyclones.
  • Amric Fields became the 33rd player in school history reach the 1,000-point club with 14 at OSU.