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TCU Basketball Preview: Baylor (Round 1)

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Get up to speed with everything you need to know about today’s Bear hunt.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 7:00pm CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Baylor Leads 98-81 | Game Line: Baylor -2.5

Following a loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, TCU will now return home to the confines of Schollmaier Arena to play that school from Waco. The Frogs had four consecutive wins over the Bears when they entered the Big 12, but have lost all nine since joining. They nearly took them down two years ago at Wilkerson-Greines, but fell 66-59 in OT.

TCU enters the game at 14-4 overall and 3-3 in Big 12 play, which puts them in a four-way tie for 4th in the conference coming into today. The Frogs came into the past week with momentum after picking up wins in Austin and at home over Iowa State, but they couldn’t put away the Red Raiders on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, TCU fell 75-69 in Lubbock after having clawed back from a 14-point deficit. The Frogs had a difficult time overcoming 25 fouls called on them which led to 31 free throw attempts for Texas Tech. In comparison, the Red Raiders only got called for 11 fouls during the game, which gave the Frogs 9 free throw attempts.

TCU did some things well against the Red Raiders, including rebounding and taking care of the ball. They only turned the ball over 9 times in the entire game and they out-rebounded Texas Tech 31-27.

Vladimir Brodziansky once again played very well on the offensive end, dropping in 22 points on 9/13 shooting. He also controlled the paint, grabbing 6 boards and blocking 5 shots. The Frogs will need another impressive effort tonight if they want to come away with the win.

Another player who stuffed the stat sheet on Wednesday night was guard Alex Robinson. He had 11 points to go along with 9 assists and 8 rebounds, but he also turned over the ball 5 times. If he can take care of the ball against Baylor, he could be a real offensive threat for the Frogs.

Baylor comes into tonight’s matchup ranked #6 in the AP poll and #2 in the RPI, behind only Villanova. They are 17-1 overall and 5-1 in Big 12 play with their only loss coming in Morgantown to the Mountaineers. Their resume includes wins over Oregon, Louisville, and Xavier, all of whom are still currently ranked by the AP.

In their most recent outing, the Bears came away with a 74-64 victory over Texas in Waco. Johnathan Motley, who has been the Baylor’s top player this season, dominated the game, finishing with 32 points and 20 rebounds. The Frogs will need to keep him off the boards, since he had as many offensive rebounds as the entire Longhorns team.

Motley has put together a good season, leading the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game. He also now leads the Big 12 in rebounding, averaging 9.7 per game, whereas TCU forward Kenrich Williams, who is 2nd, is averaging 9.6 per game. Motley is also shooting 52.6% from the floor, but he is the Bears’ most turnover-prone player with 2.6 giveaways per game.

At point guard for the Bears is Manu Lecomte, a junior who is now eligible this season after transferring from Miami. He is 2nd on the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game and leads the team in assists with 4.4 per game. The Frogs will want to keep him away from the free throw line, where he is shooting 81% this year.

Another starter that TCU will need to be wary of is Al Freeman. The junior guard is 3rd on the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game and is shooting 46% from the field. Like Lecomte, the Frogs will want to keep him away from the free throw line, where he is shooting 82.1%.

One player to watch out for off of the bench is sophomore guard Jake Lindsey. He played a key role in the game against Texas, finishing with 7 assists. Lindsey leads the Bears in three point shooting as well, knocking down 50% from beyond the arc.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Foul Trouble

As mentioned earlier, TCU struggled with foul calls against Texas Tech. Whether or not the calls were questionable, the team really was put in a hole when players like Jaylen Fisher have to spend more time on the bench. The Frogs will need to keep those guys out on the floor as much as possible, or at least have them available in the rotation, in order to get past Baylor.

On the flip side, TCU will want to attack the Bears and try to get their starters in foul trouble, specifically Johnathan Motley. The Frogs have done a good job forcing star players, such as Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson, to the bench in foul trouble so far this season. If TCU can get Baylor’s key players out of the game and capitalize at the line, they will be in a very good spot.

2 - Battle on the Boards

In recent years, TCU has struggled against Baylor, especially on the boards where it seemed the Bears would create numerous second chance opportunities. Players like Isaiah Austin and Rico Gathers have dominated the Frogs down low and caused problems. However, this should no longer be the case. Sure, Baylor has Motley as well as 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., but the Frogs have gotten some post players of their own. Vlad, Kenrich, and JD Miller can all hold their own on the boards and should limit the Bears’ second chances in this game.

3 - Schollmaier Atmosphere

One thing that should go the Frogs way today will be the atmosphere in the arena. TCU students are back on campus finally and are fired up about the team this year. I expect students to pack the arena full in what has been dubbed a “bear hunt” and that the crowd will be loud and into the game from start to finish. This team feeds off of the energy from the crowd and hopefully the fans will help carry them to a win.

Prediction:

This is going to be fun. I expect a tight game with both teams going back-and-forth in front of a great crowd. Vlad will once again be a force on the offensive end, despite facing Motley, who is better than big men he has faced this season. Kenrich should also bounce back and have a big game against his hometown team. Look for TCU to pull away late and find a way to win.

Score Prediction: TCU 76, Baylor 71

Fan Poll:

Who will win and by how much?
TCU by Double Digits
TCU by Single Digits
Baylor by Single Digits
Baylor by Double Digits

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

  • None of TCU's four losses have come to teams outside the top 50 RPI.
  • TCU's NCAA RPI is 26.
  • TCU is 14-2 against unranked opponents.
  • The Frogs are 11-1 at home this season.
  • TCU is 13-1 when outrebounding its opponent.
  • TCU is 12-0 when leading at halftime.
  • TCU is 9-0 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
  • TCU currently ranks No. 21 in the NCAA in assists (17.2).
  • Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 the Big 12 with 9.6 rebounds per game.
  • Williams ranks No. 21 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.4 average on the season.
  • Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
  • Parrish needs to play in only five more games to move into the top-10 all-time in games played in school history.
  • Parrish has made at least one 3-pointer in eight of his last 10 games.
  • Karviar Shepherd is No. 6 all-time in career starts at TCU with 95. He played in his 100th game against Arkansas State
  • Shepherd has tallied 594 career rebounds and needs only 106 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
  • Alex Robinson has recorded 17 games of five or more assists in his career.
  • Robinson has led TCU in assists 12 times this season.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 2.4 blocks per game.
  • Brodziansky is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, the first TCU player to ever win the award.