Game Time: 6:00pm CST| Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: FOX Sports Net | Series: First Meeting | Game Line: TCU -15.5
TCU comes into their third game of the Dixon era after beating Alabama State 98-62 on Monday night. The Frogs were able to get a big lead early against the Hornets and held on to that until the final buzzer, never allowing them to get within 30 points in the second half. TCU will now welcome the Jacksonville State Gamecocks for a campus game as part of the Global Sports Classic, which the Frogs will compete in over Thanksgiving weekend in Las Vegas.
On Monday, TCU really handed it to Alabama State. The Frogs were able to get out to a 47-15 halftime lead facilitated by aggressive defense that turned into fast break opportunities. They also benefited from fantastic ball movement on offense, led by point guards Jaylen Fisher and Alex Robinson, both of whom had 8 assists. As a team, the Frogs had 29 assists to only 17 turnovers. The fast break layups coupled with open shots from good ball movement allowed the Frogs to shoot an impressive 59.7 percent from the field.
The Frogs were led in scoring by freshman guard Desmond Bane, who finished the night with 19 points. Five TCU players scored in double-digits against the Hornets and the team outrebounded Alabama State 35-25.
TCU now turns their attention to Jacksonville State from the Ohio Valley Conference, who enters the game 1-2. The Gamecocks opened their season with a win at Tulsa, but have lost their previous two games on the road against Missouri State and Western Kentucky. So far this season, their most productive player has been 6’10” Lithuanian forward Norbertas Giga, who is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds through the first three games and has shot 55.3 percent from the field.
The Gamecocks also have a solid rotation of three guards who will need to have big games to knock off the Frogs. Junior guard Malcolm Drumwright leads the team with 16 assists through three games and is also averaging 10.7 points per game. Senior guards Greg Tucker and Erik Durham are both averaging double-digit scoring for Jacksonville State as well. Durham is a sharpshooter who so far has made more than half of his three-point attempts.
Two other players to keep an eye on will be sophomores Christian Cunningham and Andre Statam. Those two, along with the other four, are the only six players who have seen significant playing time this year. If the Frogs can get them in foul trouble, TCU could be able to take advantage of a lack of depth in the Gamecocks’ rotation.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Defensive Pressure
TCU will be facing a team that has shown they are capable of scoring through their first three games. Jacksonville State has five players who are averaging double-digit scoring and as a team they are shooting 49.7 percent from the field. The Gamecocks lowest scoring output thus far this season was 65 points against Missouri State.
For the Frogs, it will be critical to make the Gamecocks feel as uncomfortable as possible with the ball, especially Malcolm Drumwright, who is the facilitator of the offense. TCU has gotten 12 steals in each game so far this year and forced 20+ turnovers in each game. They will need to continue to force turnovers against Jacksonville State and to turn those turnovers into fast break points at the offensive end.
2 - Ball Movement
In addition to the defensive pressure that the Frogs put on the Hornets on Monday night, excellent ball movement was a major reason TCU was able to jump out to such a big lead. They showed patience on offense and were able to move the ball around until good shots became available. Fisher and Robinson will need to continue to show their court vision tonight and find looks for their teammates. With the offensive weapons TCU has at its disposal, such as Bane, Brandon Parrish, and Karviar Shepherd, moving the ball around to get them open will allow them to get open and put points on the board for the Frogs.
3 - Drawing Fouls on the Gamecocks
Jacksonville State has only used a six-man rotation for the most part this season, so one thing the Frogs need to look to do is force the Gamecocks into foul trouble by attacking the basket and drawing contact. Jacksonville State has eight players on their roster who are in their first year with the program. If TCU can force the main six guys to have to be taken out, they can take advantage of some of the players who are not as experienced playing at this level.
I expect TCU to come out and pressure the ball like they did against Alabama State, which should allow them to get out to an early lead. The Frogs will have to make Drumwright uncomfortable with the ball and limit his ability to get his teammates open looks. Shepherd should be able to make things difficult down low for Giga and if the Frogs can get out and run the floor, we should be looking at a 3-0 start for the Dixon era.
Score Prediction: TCU 86, Jacksonville State 61
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
• TCU and Jacksonville State will face each other for the first time Friday night.
• TCU is 3-2 all-time against Ohio Valley Conference schools.
• TCU head coach Jamie Dixon is 72-6 during the month of November.
• TCU has had five or more players score in double-figures in each of the first two games.
• TCU currently ranks No. 13 in turnovers forced in the NCAA.
• Jaylen Fisher was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week Monday.
• Brandon Parrish was the lone Frog to start every game for TCU in 2015-16.
• Parrish needs to play in only 20 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 262 points to reach 1,000 points for his career.
• Karviar Shepherd needs only one 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 557 career rebounds and needs only 143 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.