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TCU Basketball Preview & Gamethread: South Dakota

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Coming off a demolition of Tennessee Tech, the Frogs look to keep the good play going

Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: Fox Sports SW Plus | Series: First Meeting | Game Line: TCU -17.5

The Horned Frogs (2-0) handled their business Monday night against Tennessee Tech, and now they’ll have a quick turnaround to face the South Dakota Coyotes (2-0). The Frogs’ 100-63 win against the Golden Eagles was a complete domination. Desmond Bane was on fire, sinking 6/10 threes en route to 24 points in only 25 minutes. Just about everyone on the team was efficient, as fellow double digit scorers JD Miller (17), Vladimir Brodziansky (11), Jaylen Fisher (11), and Kouat Noi (10) shot 7/10, 5/6, 3/3, and 2/5 respectively. The team shot 62.5% from the field and 55.2% from three, compared to just 41.0% shooting and 36.4% 3PT shooting for the Golden Eagles. Defensively, the Frogs were the aggressors, racking up 10 steals and forcing 17 turnovers.

South Dakota is coming off a win of their own, defeating Bowling Green 88-79 on the road. Their leading scorer was junior guard Matt Mooney, with 26 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Forward Tyler Hagedorn and guard Carlton Hurst joined Mooney in double digits with 15 and 14 points respectively. The Coyotes had to mount a second half comeback, as they were actually down one at intermission against the Falcons. Their offense came alive, scoring 54 points in the second half as opposed to their 34 in the first half. Defensively, they held Bowling Green to 34.2% shooting, which was their main catalyst to victory.

The Coyotes are the best team the Frogs will have faced this season, as they were fellow participants in the 2017 NIT. Mooney is their best player, averaging 19.5 points per game on 47% shooting in the first two games. Not only can he score the ball, but he also is their primary distributor, leading the team with 5 assists per game as well as ranking 24th in the nation with a 46.9% assist rate. In addition to Mooney, Hagedorn, and Hurst, they also brought back junior Trey Burch-Manning, who is second on the team in rebounding behind Hurst. As a team the Coyotes are very disciplined, their 12.5% turnover rate ranks 28th in the country, meaning they won’t beat themselves. They also can dial it up from three, shooting 40% so far this season which is good for a 72 ranking. The flip side of their disciplined nature is that they also don’t force many turnovers, with an opponent turnover rate of 15 ranking 267th overall.

Three things to watch:

Stay efficient on offense

The biggest key for the Frogs by far will be to maintain their efficiency from the Tennessee Tech game. The Coyotes are ruthlessly disciplined, and have bothered opponent shooting to the tune of a 39.7% eFG rate (32nd in the country). An advantage for the Frogs will be their ability to spread the ball around and follow the hot hand. Last game, Kenrich Williams only had 5 points, but barely anyone noticed since players like Bane and Miller stepped up. In addition to a solid shooting percentage, efficiency on offense also means not giving away possessions. You aren’t going to get a lot of unforced errors from this Coyote squad, but the bright side is they don’t force many turnovers either. Point guard play from Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher will once again be key.

Contain Mooney

Matt Mooney is the engine that makes the whole South Dakota machine run. In addition to his excellent play thus far in 2017-18, he was also the team’s leading scorer and best player on an NIT level 2016-17 squad. He averaged 18.6 points per game on 46% shooting and 37% from deep. Stymying Mooney and forcing him to be solely a distributor would greatly affect the Coyotes’ efficiency, and would put a scoring load on other players that they aren’t ready to handle at this point in their careers. If Mooney goes for less than 20, it could be a long night for the Coyotes.

Dominate inside

Despite South Dakota having more length than Tennessee Tech, their numbers inside are just barely better. In the paint they are ranked lowly in stats like offensive rebounding rate (22.5%, 256th) and block percentage (14.6%, 270th). Kenny Hustle, with his 25.5% defensive rebound rate, should be excited at how many rebounds he should be able to grab. TCU has been great at probing and hitting the open man, but this game may be a prime opportunity to take it to the rim and force the Coyotes to bang in the paint. The Frogs have outrebounded both of their opponents thus far, and look for that trend to continue into game three.

Prediction:

The Frogs will be challenged by the Coyotes, but after seeing TCU at their full potential, it’s hard to see where to firepower is going to come from by South Dakota. Mooney would need to have an insane game, and I trust that the Frogs’ defense will have a plan to limit his impact. South Dakota lacks the ability to pressure TCU into a ton of turnovers, which would seem like their best bet to close the talent gap.

The Mooney/Alex Robinson matchup really intrigues me, and it is perhaps A Rob’s turn to have a big show out game. I also expect Dez Bane to continue his early season tear and for Kenny Hustle to have a favorable matchup. The Coyotes are no doubt a quality opponent who could possibly win their conference, but the Frogs will simply prove too much this time around.

Prediction: TCU 80, South Dakota 62

Here are the official game notes via GoFrogs.com:

- TCU has won its last six games with the starting lineup of Alex Robinson, Desmond Bane, Kenrich Williams, JD Miller and Vladimir Brodziansky. Four of those games were the final four of last season and all occurred in the NIT.

- Vladimir Brodziansky is 49 blocks away from James Penny’s school-record of 171 from 1995-98. Brodziansky currently ranks fifth in blocked shots with 122.

- TCU is receiving votes in the preseason top 25 poll. The Frogs earned 43 points in the AP Poll, which would be ranked 29th, and 32 points in the USA Today Coaches Poll, which would be ranked 30th.

- TCU returns 79 percent of its scoring and 79 percent of its rebounding from last season.

- One season after winning its first postseason tournament, TCU will try to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Since 1985, 58 percent of the teams that won the NIT made the NCAA Tournament the following season.

About South Dakota

- South Dakota has an enrollment of 10,216, similar to TCU (10,394), and is located in Vermillion, S.D.

- The Coyotes went 22-12 overall last season and went 12-4 in conference to win the Summit League.

- South Dakota returns 11 letterwinners, including three starters from last season’s team that fell at Iowa in the first round of the NIT. TCU went on to beat Iowa in the second round of the NIT, 94-92 in overtime.

- The Coyotes were picked to finish second in the Summit League this season, behind South Dakota State.

- South Dakota is coming off an 88-79 win at Bowling Green on Monday. Junior guard Matt Mooney scored 26 points and had seven assists and five rebounds to lead the Coyotes. He leads the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game.

About the Series

- This is the first meeting between TCU and South Dakota.

- TCU is 2-4 all-time against current members of the Summit League.

Hot Shooting Frogs

TCU used a hot shooting night to route Tennessee Tech, 100-63 on Monday.

- The Frogs shot 62.5 percent from the field, the ninth best in school history and the best since Dec. 27, 1998 when they shot 65.9 percent against Oklahoma.

- TCU was 16-of-29 from 3-point range, the most made threes since March 13, 2008. On that date, TCU had 17 3-pointers against UNLV to match the school record set against Grambling State on Dec. 30. The 16 made threes was tied for the third-most in school history.

Desmond Bane Goes Off

Sophomore guard Desmond Bane exploded with a career-high 24 points in just 25 minutes of play against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 13. He matched his previous career-high of 19 (vs. Alabama St., Nov. 14, 2016), in the first half. Bane was 6-of 10 from 3-point range, a career high for made threes. It was the most 3-pointers in a game by a TCU player since Hank Thorns hit eight threes against UNLV on Feb. 14, 2012.

They’re Back

TCU returns its top six scorers from last season, including all five starters. Altogether, the Frogs return 79 percent of their scoring and 79 percent of their rebounding from last year. Kenrich Williams is the Big 12 Conference’s top returning rebounder after averaging 9.7 per game last season. Vladimir Brodziansky’s 14.1 points per game is the third-most of a returning player in the conference.

Hot in November

TCU won eight of its final nine games last season. The Frogs hope to continue the momentum in November like they have in the past. Over the last three years, the Frogs have gone 19-2 in the month of November and was a perfect 7-0 last season as they won their first eight games of the season.

Coaching with Experience

This season, Jamie Dixon will be the head coach of a team that returns all five starters for the first time in his 15-year career. In 2010-11, Dixon’s Pittsburgh team returned four starters from the 2009-10 season. The 2011 team went 28-6, won the Big East Conference and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.