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TCU Basketball Preview: West Virginia

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After falling to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Frogs will have a quick turnaround as they face 17th-ranked West Virginia tonight.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 6:00pm CDT | Location: Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
TV: ESPN2 | Series: WVU Leads 6-0 | Game Line: WVU -10.0

Just about 51 hours after falling on the road to Oklahoma State, the Frogs are back in action tonight to face the 17th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. The contest marks the first Big 12 contest played inside the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.

TCU enters the game 8-5 on the year, looking for their first-ever win over West Virginia. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are off to a red-hot 12-1 start after knocking off Kansas State on the road in double overtime on Saturday.

As has been the case with West Virginia under Bob Huggins, the Mountaineers are fueled by a ridiculously tough defense that thrives off of the full-court press and generating steals. WVU enters tonight's game #1 in the nation in steals, averaging almost 12 per game. The Mountaineers are also 16th in the nation in total defense, allowing their opponents to score just 61.8 points per game on 41.5% shooting from the field. The Frogs have yet to face a defense quite like West Virginia's. Washington ran a full-court press for much of the first half against TCU, generating 12 turnovers on 18 different full-court press formations.

The Mountaineers have been lighting things up on the other side of the ball as well. Through 13 games, the team is 10th in the nation in scoring with 86.0 points per game on 47.8% shooting from the field. The team is also averaging 17.3 assists per game, a mark that ranks 27th in the country. Junior forward Devin Williams has been a one-man wrecking crew so far this season, averaging 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. He also leads the team in shooting, averaging 57.5% from the floor.

Sophomore guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles have been a lethal duo in West Virginia's starting lineup. Carter comes into the contest averaging 12.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Meanwhile, Miles is just behind him with averages of 12.0 points, 2.2 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.1 steals. Carter and Miles have built a two-headed monster that is nearly impossible to stop in all facets of the game. It will be a tall task for TCU to keep both of these talented underclassmen in check tonight.

Jaysean Paige has been the most productive Mountaineer off the bench. The senior guard is contributing 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 18.6 minutes per game. Paige is a talented shooter, coming into the game averaging 52.2% from the field and 40.4% from behind the arc.

Across the court, TCU enters the game off a tough 69-48 loss on the road to Oklahoma State. The Frogs were done in by a cold-shooting night in which the team set season lows in both points scored and shooting percentage. Trent Johnson's squad will look to kick it into another gear tonight, going up against one of the best defenses in the league.

Despite struggling on the road against Oklahoma State, Vladimir Brodziansky and Malique Trent continue to be the two biggest bright spots for TCU this season. Brodziansky leads the team with 13.2 points per game on an ultra-efficient 60.4% shooting from the field. Trent is just behind, adding another 12.1 points in addition to his team-high 3.3 assists per game.

Chauncey Collins was one of the bright sports for TCU on Saturday, scoring 11 points and grabbing four rebounds. However, the sophomore guard shot just 2/7 from the field. On the season, Collins is third on the team in scoring with 9.3 points per game. He is also pulling down 2.7 rebounds and dishing out 1.8 assists each night.

Karviar Shepherd and Brandon Parrish struggled this weekend, even after posting career numbers in the final non-conference games of 2015. Shepherd and Parrish have played 76 total games together at TCU. Saturday's contest marked just the second time in that span that both players were held scoreless in the same game. The only other occurrence was a March 4, 2015 loss, also at Oklahoma State.

Shepherd enters tonight's game as the team's top rebounder, pulling down 7.2 per game in addition to scoring 8.5 points. Parrish's range has been a bright spot this season, as he is averaging 8.2 points per game while shooting 36.4% from behind the arc. These two talented and experienced juniors will likely be keys to success tonight against West Virginia.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Get to the Line

While counter-intuitive because of past results, perhaps the strongest facet of this year's TCU team has been drawing fouls and hitting free throws.  The Frogs enter tonight's game 54th in the nation in free throw attempts with 345 on the year. That's an average of nearly 27 per game. In theory, even if the Frogs hit 60% of their foul shots, that's still about 16 additional points per contest. Against Oklahoma State, TCU shot 17/25 from the line and put together an 8-0 run, all with made free throws, to tie things late in the first half. Considering West Virginia's physical style of play, if the Frogs can work things inside and draw fouls, TCU will have a lot of chances to pick up much-needed easy points.

2. Break the Press

It sounds obvious, but TCU likely won't be able to upset West Virginia tonight if they can't break the press. The Frogs have really struggled this season in limited opportunities against full-court press defensive schemes. With the press being one of WVU's main strengths, the Frogs will have to manufacture a way to speed things up and score baskets in transition. Taking care of the ball while moving from the baseline to the paint will be imperative for the Frogs tonight. TCU can't afford to give West Virginia any additional help via turnovers.

3. Shake Things Up?

Although it goes against everything we've seen from Trent Johnson, there is a chance that we see a shakeup in the starting lineup sometime soon. Johnson rarely changes his starting lineup unless there is an immediate need or an injury, however, with Chauncey Collins and Chris Washburn returning to 100% following injuries, there is a chance that both players enter the starting rotation sooner rather than later. Collins started the first six games of the year before a quad injury that saw Michael Williams take his spot in the lineup. Over the last six games, Collins has scored nearly twice as many points as Williams despite seeing about 33% fewer playing time in his role off the bench. Additionally, Washburn is returning to full strength after a broken finger that caused him to miss the first 11 games of the year. With a player of Washburn's size and ability being a key need for TCU in Big 12 play, it is likely that he enters the lineup fairly soon.

TCU Projected Starters

West Virginia Projected Starters

G

Michael Williams

4.9 ppg, 2.5 apg

F

Devin Williams

14.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg

G

Malique Trent

12.1 ppg, 3.3 apg

F

Jonathan Holton

8.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg

C

Esa Ahmad

5.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg

F

Vladimir Brodziansky

13.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg

G

Jevon Carter

12.5 ppg, 2.7 apg

F

Karviar Shepherd

8.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg

G

Daxter Miles

12.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg

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

  • TCU has won 26 of its last 30 non-conference games dating back to 2013.
  • TCU is 40-7 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has held 34 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • TCU had held two-straight opponents to under 50 points prior to Oklahoma State.
  • Heading into Monday, TCU ranks No. 55 in NCAA in scoring defense.
  • TCU returned 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 played its first 11 games without Washburn and Williams.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week following the season-opener.
  • Brodziansky ranks No. 25 in NCAA in field goal percentage on the season.
  • Michael Williams has started seven-straight games.
  • TCU's record is 5-2 since Williams was inserted into the starting lineup.
  • Williams only had two prior starts in his three-year career heading into this season.