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TCU Basketball Preview: Tennessee

The Frogs will take a quick break from conference play to face the Tennessee Volunteers in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge this afternoon.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 1:00pm CDT | Location: Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
TV: ESPN2 | Series: TCU Leads 1-0 | Game Line: UT -2.0

TCU gets a nice break from Big 12 play this afternoon as the Frogs host the Tennessee Volunteers, looking to move to remain undefeated in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The team picked up big road wins over both Mississippi and Mississippi State during the first two years of the event in 2014 and 2015. This year's matchup features two 10th-place teams looking to turn disappointing starts into something to remember.

The Vols enter today's game 10-10 on the year after falling to Alabama earlier this week. Tennessee led that contest 55-47 before a late collapse gave the Tide a big home win. The loss dropped UT to 3-5 in SEC play, locking the team in a tie for 10th place with Auburn.

Tennessee is led by one of the most underrated seniors in the nation. Guard Kevin Punter is averaging 22.9 points per game while also grabbing 3.7 boards, dishing out 3.6 assists, and committing 1.5 steals each night. He has proven to be a fairly consistent scorer, both in the lane and along the perimeter. The Frogs have struggled to contain hot shooters in league play this season, so there's no question that the defense will have to be ready to go this afternoon.

Robert Hubbs III and Armani Moore are the only other Vols averaging in double-figures. Hubbs is knocking in 12.3 points and grabbing 4.6 rebounds per game while Moore adds 11.7 points to go along with a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game. Devon Baulkman has been another consistent source for offense this season, averaging 9.4 point and 3.7 rebound per game. Admiral Schofield rounds out the starting five, adding another 7.0 points and 3.6 boards each night.

Despite the 10-10 start, Tennessee has been putting up respectable numbers on both ends of the court this season. The Vols enter today's game with the 75th best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 78.2 points per game behind their superstar, the aforementioned Kevin Punter. The team is also 77th in the country in total rebounding, pulling down 38.7 each night.

Frogs fans will notice a familiar face on the Tennessee sideline this afternoon as former Texas head coach Rick Barnes is now running the show at the other UT. Today's contest marks Barnes' first game back in the Lone Star State after being fired from Texas following the conclusion of last season. All-time, TCU is 0-8 against Barnes-coached teams, with each loss coming while Barnes was at Texas. The Frogs have averaged just 51.1 points per game in those eight contests. The most any TCU team has ever scored against a Barnes-coached defense is 59, which has happened on two occasions.

Speaking of offensive woes, TCU enters today's game with one of the worst scoring attacks in the nation. The Frogs are currently 283rd out of 351 Division I programs in total scoring, averaging just 68.3 points per game. The team is dead last in Big 12 play, knocking in just 61.1 points per league game. The struggles on the offensive end have led to the team's 9-11 start, including losses in the last five outings. The Frogs fell to 1-7 in Big 12 play after a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Texas on Tuesday night.

After a series of poor outings, Karviar Shepherd was moved to the bench for just the second time in 83 career games as a Frog. The only other instance was on senior day last season, to allow Amric Fields one last collegiate start. Shepherd saw 22 minutes off the bench against Texas, where he scored eight points on 1/6 shooting from the field. He also grabbed five boards and shot 6/6 from the line.

Vladimir Brodziansky replaced Shepherd in the starting lineup, where he had his worst game to date in a TCU uniform. Brodziansky failed to score for the first time this season, grabbing just two rebounds while committing four fouls in 14 minutes of play. Even with his 0-fer on Tuesday night, he still leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per game.

Malique Trent and Chauncey Collins are the only other double-digit scorers on Trent Johnson's team. Trent is averaging 11.2 points per game this season, including 18 total points in the last two outings after returning from a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Collins has turned it up a notch as of late, now averaging 10.5 points each night.

This afternoon's game provides one of the last decent matchups for TCU this season. After today's game, the Frogs travel to #1 Oklahoma before returning home to face #4 Kansas. Overall, eight of TCU's last 10 regular season games are against a ranked opponent, on the road, or both.

TCU Projected Starters

Tennessee Projected Starters

G

Michael Williams

5.1 ppg, 2.8 apg

F

Armani Moore

11.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg

G

Chauncey Collins

10.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg

F

Admiral Schofield

7.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

8.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg

G

Kevin Punter

22.9 ppg, 3.6 apg

F

Chris Washburn

7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg

G

Robert Hubbs III

12.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

11.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg

G

Devon Baulkman

9.4 ppg, 3.7 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.
  • TCU played its fifth opponent either ranked or receiving votes in its last seven games at Texas.
  • TCU returned three starters from a year ago in Chris Washburn, Kenrich Williams and Karviar Shepherd.
  • All three are TCU's captains this season.
  • TCU has won four out of its last eight Big 12 Conference home games.
  • TCU played its first 11 games without Washburn and Williams.
  • Brodziansky ranks No. 67 in NCAA in field goal percentage on the season.
  • Michael Williams has started 14-straight games. Williams made only his 16th career start at Texas.
  • Malique Trent ranks third in the Big 12 Conference in steals and No. 50 in the NCAA.