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TCU Basketball Preview: Texas Tech

Fresh off a narrow defeat to the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, the Frogs return to action tonight to host the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 6:00pm CDT | Location: Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
TV: ESPNU | Series: TTU Leads 76-49 | Game Line: TTU -2.5

The Frogs will both end and begin important stretches of play tonight as they host the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This evening's contest marks the third game in the span of six days for TCU, the only occurrence of this unique Big 12 scheduling quirk for the Frogs this season. TCU enters their meeting with Texas Tech battle-tested, having faced #22 Baylor and #1 Kansas in that span.

Tonight's game also marks the beginning of a do-or-die stretch for TCU that will determine whether or not the Frogs can turn their 9-8 start into anything meaningful. After hosting Texas Tech, a reeling Iowa State team will visit Schollmaier Arena. Following a trip to Austin in which the Frogs will be presented with the opportunity to sweep the Longhorns, TCU will return home to host Tennessee as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Anything worse than a 2-2 mark in this span could spell trouble for the Frogs as the team enters the meat of their conference schedule.

The first order of business is an 11-5 Texas Tech squad that put together an impressive run through the non-conference portion of their schedule before cooling off in Big 12 play. The Red Raiders entered league action 10-1 on the year, with their lone loss coming against 16th-ranked Utah on a neutral floor. TTU's hot start carried over into 2016 as the team knocked off Texas to open conference play, however, the Red Raiders have dropped four straight contests coming into tonight's game. Texas Tech kept things close on the road against Iowa State and at home against Kansas before dropping a road decision to Kansas State. On Saturday, the Raiders fell to Baylor 63-60 as Lester Medford hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to secure the win for the Bears.

Tubby Smith's two lone seniors have led the way for Texas Tech this season. Devaugntah Williams is the team's top scorer, averaging 13.8 points per game while also grabbing 3.6 rebounds and dishing out 1.8 assists. Toddrick Gotcher is the only other double-digit scorer, knocking in 11.3 points per game himself. Gotcher has been ultra-productive this season, averaging 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 0.9 steals per game as well.

One big reason for Texas Tech's hot start was a supporting cast that, while not flashy, put up solid numbers night in and night out. Smith's rotation features five additional players that average between seven and 10 points as well as between three and seven boards. Zach Smith is the leader of this group, scoring 9.6 points to go along with his team-high 6.4 rebounds. Norense Odiase has been just as productive, averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Justin Gray, Keenan Evans, and Aaron Ross have all been similarly productive.

The Red Raiders have found success through baiting teams into focusing on Williams and Gotcher while their other impact players go to work. Make no mistake, despite their four-game slide, Tubby Smith has laid a very solid foundation for Texas Tech to compete into the future. The Frogs are going to have to play a complete 40 minutes on both ends of the floor to come away with a win tonight.

Issues on the offensive end have plagued a TCU team that has dropped four of its last five games, all in Big 12 play. The Frogs will hit the floor tonight having averaged just 58.3 points per game in their last three contests. Most recently, TCU dropped a tighter than expected game against a #1-ranked Kansas team, 70-63.

Chauncey Collins has been Trent Johnson's most productive player in Big 12 action. The sophomore guard enters this evening's game averaging 12.0 points per game in league play. He is also second on the team in both rebounding and assists in that span. With Malique Trent likely to miss his third straight game tonight due to a violation of team rules, pressure will be on Collins to run the offense efficiently.

Karviar Shepherd continues a solid start to league play, as he is averaging 8.0 points and 3.4 rebounds through the first five conference games. Brandon Parrish continues his run as one of TCU's most accurate shooters. He is scoring 7.6 points per game on 48.0% shooting from the field.

Finally, Chris Washburn is returning to form after his broken finger earlier in the season. While Washburn anchors the defense, he has been impressive on the offensive end of the court as well. The junior guard is averaging 7.6 points per game on 42.4% shooting from the field so far this season. He is also averaging 2.2 assists to go along with his 4.2 rebounds.

Pressure will be on the TCU offense tonight to snap out of their recent funk and put up enough to hang with Texas Tech. The Frogs took both games in the season series against the Red Raiders last season, but TCU will to need to play sound basketball on both sides of the floor to capture a victory tonight.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Amp It Up

TCU's defense has been rather Jekyll & Hyde as of late. The Frogs opened Big 12 play by holding Oklahoma State to just 69 points. The following game, West Virginia dropped 95. TCU rebounded by holding Texas to 57, then let Baylor score 87. Most recently, the Frogs' defense held a hot-shooting Kansas team to just 70 points. So far, we really don't know how talented this unit is. The Frogs have looked very solid at times and very suspect at others. Texas Tech is not a great scoring team, averaging just 73.7 points per game this year, but TCU will need to put together their second straight strong outing on the defensive end to come away with a win tonight.

2. Malique Trent's Status

The longer TCU goes without Malique Trent, the worse off this team will be. Trent was suspended last week for an unspecified violation of team rules and his status for tonight's game is still is up in the air. The details surrounding his suspension are pretty cloudy, but what's clear is this: the Frogs cannot afford to be without Trent's offensive production for very long. The sophomore was averaging a team-high 11.7 points per game before being suspended prior to last Wednesday's game against Baylor. Not only will the Frogs be without his scoring ability, but that's one less body for an already very thin TCU bench. With Dalton Dry's status still uncertain following an illness, Trent Johnson has just nine healthy players for the foreseeable future.

3. Finish at the Rim

One issue plaguing the Frogs on the offensive end has been a lack of ability to finish shots from close range. Against both Baylor and Kansas, TCU was able to drive inside and create scoring opportunities, but a lot of those shots didn't fall. This year's team features a handful of very talented shooters, and it will be imperative for those shooters to follow-through on their interior shots. TCU enters tonight's game 238th in the nation with 0.971 points per possession. If the Frogs can finish at the rim, that number will rise and the offensive problems will fall by the wayside.

TCU Projected Starters

Texas Tech Projected Starters

G

Michael Williams

5.4 ppg, 2.8 apg

F

Zach Smith

9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg

G

Chauncey Collins

10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg

C

Norense Odiase

9.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg

G

Devaugntah Williams

13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg

F

Chris Washburn

7.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg

G

Keenan Evans

7.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

F

Karviar Shepherd

8.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg

G

Toddrick Gotcher

11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg

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

  • TCU is 41-8 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has held 35 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • Heading into Monday, TCU ranks No. 69 in NCAA in three-point field goal defense.
  • TCU returned three starters from a year ago in Chris Washburn, Kenrich Williams and Karviar Shepherd.
  • TCU has won four out of its last six Big 12 Conference home games heading into Monday night.
  • TCU played its first 11 games without Washburn and Williams.
  • Brodziansky ranks No. 56 in NCAA in field goal percentage on the season.
  • Michael Williams has started 11-straight games.
  • Brandon Parrish ranks second in the Big 12 Conference in 3-point field goal percentage at 52 percent.