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TCU Basketball Preview: Alabama State

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The Frogs host the Hornets in their first game against a D-1 opponent under Jamie Dixon.

NCAA Basketball: Alabama State at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 8:00pm CDT| Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: FOX Sports Southwest+ | Series: TCU leads 2-0 | Game Line: None

TCU is set for game two of the Jamie Dixon era. The Horned Frogs will welcome the Alabama State Hornets to Schollmaier Arena tonight in their first game against a D-1 opponent under coach Dixon. This game will be one of the two campus games for TCU that are part of the Global Sports Classic, an event they will be participating in over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Frogs come in after winning their first game of the year this past Friday 82-64 over the St. Thomas Celts, an NAIA team from Houston. TCU was led by some of their new players, including Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson and the program’s highest-rated recruit ever Jaylen Fisher. Robinson led the team in scoring and minutes played and Fisher led the team in assists and steals. TCU was able to have a balanced offensive attack, with six players scoring in double-digits.

Alabama State enters the game 0-1 after losing their season opener 79-66 against Western Kentucky. This game was also part of the campus games portion of the Global Sports Classic. The Hornets were led in scoring by junior Rodney Simeon who tallied 25 points against the Hilltoppers. Simeon has faced the Frogs once before while he was at Tennessee State, playing 9 minutes but not scoring.

The Hornets struggled in their first game in the first half, allowing Western Kentucky to pull out to a 34-17 halftime lead. It will be important for TCU to get out ahead of Alabama State early and to stay comfortably ahead. They also struggled offensively, turning the ball over 13 times and only shooting 35.1 percent from the field.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Can the Frogs Get an Early Run?

TCU came out firing offensively in the first half, but every time they seemed poised to separate themselves, St. Thomas was able to hit a three or get a run-ending bucket. It wasn’t until the Frogs were able to go on a 17-2 second-half run that a win for TCU looked inevitable. In the first half, TCU was never able to get a lead larger than 8 since they couldn’t get a run going. If the Frogs can get an early run and a double-digit lead in the first half, TCU should be able to set it on cruise control in the second half and get the win.

2 - Keep Up the Defensive Pressure

Although TCU couldn’t keep up their runs and St. Thomas was able to stop some early runs, it wasn’t due to a lack of defensive effort or pressure. The Horned Frogs forced 21 turnovers by the Celts en route to their 82-64 win. 12 of those turnovers were steals, which allowed the Frogs and all of their athletic guards to get out and run. Can TCU keep up this pressure as we move on to D-1 opponents? This game will give us a chance to find out.

3 - New Guards Shining

TCU welcomed multiple guards to the backcourt this year, and with Michael Williams out with an injury, all were able to get a chance to show what they can do against St. Thomas. Star freshman Jaylen Fisher showed why he was so highly recruited out of high school, scoring 13 points and leading the Frogs with 7 assists and 4 steals. The other new guard who got a chance to start was freshman Desmond Bane, who was an electric scorer in high school. He contributed 12 points for the Frogs and made 5 of his 8 field goal attempts.

Another new guard for the Horned Frogs is Alex Robinson, who spent the most time on the court for the Frogs, playing 28 of 40 minutes. He led the team in scoring with 16 points, making 7 of his 11 field goal attempts. Robinson also contributed at the defensive end with 3 steals. Freshman Josh Parrish, younger brother of senior Brandon Parrish, also made his debut against St. Thomas. He didn’t contribute much to the stat sheet, but he was effective on defense and should be able to start adding more in the box score in coming games. All four of the new guards should get chances to play significant minutes again tonight.

Prediction:

TCU should likely come out with the same starting five of Fisher, Bane, Trent, Miller, and Shepherd, seeing as there’s no reason to change. Jaylen Fisher will likely be the star of the show again facilitating the offense and finding scoring opportunities for himself and others. Shepherd should be able to dominate down low again and find easy buckets. If the Horned Frogs can keep Rodney Simeon in check, TCU should be able to come away from the game with a comfortable win and ready for the next opponent, Jacksonville State.

Score Prediction: TCU 81, Alabama State 57

Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

• TCU is 2-0 all-time against Alabama State.

• TCU is 34-1 against SWAC schools all-time.

• TCU head coach Jamie Dixon is 71-6 during the month of November.

Jaylen Fisher and Desmond Bane made their first career starts against St. Thomas.

• Fisher posted the most steals in a season-opener with four since Neil P. Dougherty swiped five in 2006.

Brandon Parrish was the lone Frog to start every game for TCU in 2015-16.

• Parrish needs to play in only 21 more games to move into the top-10 all-time in games played in school history.

• With nine more starts, Parrish will rank No. 9 in games started at TCU all-time.

• Parrish needs only 272 points to reach 1,000 points for his career.

Karviar Shepherd needs only two more starts to move into No. 9 all-time in games started in program history.

• Shepherd currently ranks No. 5 in blocked shots for a career with 97 going into this season.

• Shepherd has tallied 549 career rebounds and needs only 151 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.

Malique Trent ranked No. 19 in the NCAA in steals per game in 2015-16 with an average of 2.1.

• Trent ranked first in steals in the Big 12 Conference during league play and overall in 2015-16.