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Second Chance Points: Beware of the Phrog?

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The last four meetings between TCU and Kansas have been decided by an average of 6.0 points per game. In this week's Second Chance Points, we examine what the Frogs need to do to knock off the Jayhawks on Saturday.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

One of the elements that the Big 12 Conference prides itself on is its competition format - in Big 12 basketball, each team plays every other team at home and on the road. The league boasts that this double round robin format is the most successful way to determine "One True Champion." This gives each team the opportunity to make corrections and adjustments before the second matchup in the season series.

TCU hosts the 7th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, looking to use their 70-63 loss in Lawrence from mid-January as a foundation for continued success. The Frogs kept things relatively close against a Kansas squad that was the #1 team in the nation according to both the Associated Press and USA Today at the time. Kansas has won the last four meetings against TCU, but only by a combined 24 points. The Frogs should have enough experience under their belt at this point in the season to put up yet another competitive performance against the Jayhawks.

Beware of the Phrog?

Notable Close Games between TCU and Kansas

2/6/13

TCU 62, #5 Kansas 55

1/28/15

#9 Kansas 64, TCU 61

2/21/15

#8 Kansas 81, TCU 72

3/13/15

#9 Kansas 64, TCU 59

1/16/16

#1 Kansas 70, TCU 63

Despite a pretty significant talent gap, the Frogs have done a solid job of keeping Big 12 games relatively close this season. As noted above, TCU has been especially competitive against Kansas as of late. Having already played 40 minutes against these Jayhawks, what adjustments does TCU need to make to come out with a win this weekend?

Attack the Paint

The Frogs failed to create scoring opportunities in the paint for much of the first half against the Jayhawks in Lawrence, leading to a 37-28 advantage for Kansas at the half. During the second frame, TCU drove the ball inside with significantly more authority, eventually dropping 20 points in the paint, outscoring KU 35-33 over the final 20 minutes. It will be imperative for TCU to force the ball inside on Saturday, even in the presence of shot-blocking machine Cheick Diallo, who picked up a career-high five blocks against the Frogs.

Kansas Shot Chart

A renewed focus on scoring inside will also likely lead to a handful of shot opportunities from behind the arc. The Frogs were able to weather the initial storm in Lawrence thanks to a five first-half threes. If TCU can bait Kansas into doubling down in the lane, guys like Chauncey Collins, Brandon Parrish, and Malique Trent might find themselves with a few opportunities to do some damage from deep.

Defend the Arc

Conversely, the Frogs' three-point defense will need to put up another strong performance. In the first meeting, TCU kept what was at the time the best three-point shooting team in the nation to just 5/20 from behind the arc. The Frogs will likely have to match or top that effort to find success on Saturday. TCU's three-point defense has left a lot to be desired as of late. The Frogs have allowed four of their last five opponents to hit at least eight deep balls, with two of those four opponents shooting better than 50% from behind the arc.

KU Three Point Defense

Get to the Line

As was mentioned previously, the Frogs have done a pretty good job of remaining at least within striking distance from most of their Big 12 opponents. One big reason for this is TCU's increased level of physicality, which results in a greater number of opponent fouls, and thus more output from the free throw line. The Frogs have scored at least 10 points from the line in 18 of their 22 games this season, including a season-high 35 against West Virginia in early January.

KU Game Flow

Last month's contest with Kansas was one of the few games where TCU struggled to get to the line. The Frogs were just 8/11 from the charity stripe, the second-fewest attempts of the entire season. In a game away from Allen Fieldhouse, the Frogs should be able to be even more physical in the lane, not only creating scoring opportunities, but also getting more opportunities to pick up easy points from the line.

Make them Pay

For the most part, Kansas plays very fundamental basketball. The Jayhawks don't make too many mistakes, but when they do, it is usually on the road in front of a hostile crowd. With the rematch taking place in Fort Worth, a place Kansas has struggled slightly over the last three years, it will be important for the Frogs to capitalize on any mistakes that the Jayhawks might make. TCU scored 10 points off of 10 KU turnovers during the first meeting Lawrence. Improving on both of those numbers will go a long way toward the Frogs keeping things close on Saturday afternoon.

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There's really no way around it - TCU will enter Saturday's game as pretty big underdogs. However, the Frogs have kept things relatively close against the Jayhawks and other significantly more talented teams as of late. If TCU can stick to their aggressive style of play in the lane, defend the arc, and capitalize on Kansas' mistakes, we could be in for another narrow meeting between these two schools on the opposite end of the basketball spectrum.