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TCU Basketball Preview and Gamethread: New Mexico

Hey, that other TCU team plays today too, and they’re pretty good themselves

TCU vs Omaha, November 20, 2017
TCU vs Omaha, November 20, 2017
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 6:00 PM CST | Location: The Arena at NW Florida St College – Niceville, FL | TV: CBS Sports | Series: New Mexico leads 16-6 | Game Line: No Line

After TCU football takes on Baylor in the A.M., the basketball Frogs (4-0) will be in action on the west coast taking on the New Mexico Lobos (2-2). TCU is riding high after a 99-66 demolition of the Omaha Mavericks on Monday night. Five Frogs were in double digits for scoring: Vladimir Brodziansky (19), Desmond Bane (14), Kenrich Williams (11), JD Miller (10), and Ahmed Hamdy (10). The Mavs were pestered into 26 turnovers by the TCU defense, and the Frogs had 26 assists despite missing starting point guard Alex Robinson. Jaylen Fisher stepped up in Robinson’s absence, scoring 9 points and dishing out 9 assists. The Frogs won the game by yet again shooting a great percentage (52.9%) and limiting the fast-paced Mavs’ offense by forcing turnovers.

The Lobos are coming off a 104-96 loss to Tennessee Tech. Junior guard Chris McNeal had 29 points and senior forward Sam Longwood had 21, but the Lobos weren’t able to outpace a Golden Eagles team that shot 54.5% from 3 on the game. New Mexico, in turn, shot a pretty poor 40.6% from the field as a team. Tennessee Tech is one of two common opponents the Lobos have with the Frogs, as TCU handed Tennessee Tech their only loss of the season on November 13 by a score of 100-63. Both teams also defeated Omaha, TCU by a score of 99-66 and New Mexico by a score of 103-71.

New Mexico is a team that has feasted on the bad defenses it has faced early on in the season, averaging 115 points per game on teams ranked 250 or lower in defensive rating. However, they ran into a wall when they played New Mexico State (ranked 141 in defensive rating), managing a mere 56 points. This was because they shot only 30% from behind the line and allowed an insane 25 offensive rebounds. New Mexico typically shoots the 3 quite well, 39.8% is good for 56th in the nation, but their inability to crash the defensive glass has allowed for a 39.4% offensive rebound rate, one of the absolute worst in D1.

Their best player is probably McNeal, who leads to team in scoring at 18 points a game as well as assists with 5 per game. He’s got a solid stroke from behind the line and is definitely their most efficient scorer. Longwood is also a solid player, with 15.3 points per game and a real knack for drawing fouls and getting to the free throw stripe. Antino Jackson joins them in the starting lineup, dishing out assists and shooting threes when needed. The starting lineup is rounded out by Joe Furstinger and Dane Kuiper, who don’t use a ton of possessions. Furstinger is a solid rebounder and free throw shooting, but Kuiper has largely struggled overall to start off the year. Rather than those two contribute scoring the ball, New Mexico turns to bench players Anthony Mathis and Troy Simons. Mathis and Simons both average over 10 points a game off the bench, mostly scoring from behind the line as they each make 3s at a better than 45% clip.

Three Things to Watch For

Second Chance Opportunities

New Mexico State absolutely decimated the Lobos thanks to their 25 offensive boards. New Mexico is 333rd in opponent offensive rebound rate. TCU isn’t exceptional as a team at oReb rate, but they do have two guys nationally ranked in the stat (Kouat Noi’s 8.4 coming in at 433rd and Kenny Hustle’s 8.5 at 423rd). Crashing the offensive glass will have to be a top priority, as New Mexico is prone to fouling inside and getting opponents on the line (their free throw to field goal ratio also ranks in the 300s). As a team, the Frogs have a real good opportunity to run up the score if they can exploit New Mexico’s biggest weakness as a team.

Limit New Mexico possessions

While TCU should crash the offensive glass, they should also have a huge mismatch on the defensive glass. TCU’s opponent oReb rate is 17.1%, good for #3 in the country. Considering New Mexico is bringing in the #208 offense (101.4 rating) to face the #20 defense (93.6 rating), they will need to maximize their opportunities to score, and they will find that tough sailing against a disciplined TCU team on the boards. TCU also steals the ball and forces opponent turnovers at a high rate, ranking 17th in steal % and 64th in turnover %. New Mexico can tend to be careless with the ball, so TCU can limit their scoring opportunities by simply taking the ball away as well.

Keep feeding Vlad

Vladimir Brodziansky has been an absolute machine to start this season. KenPom names a game MVP for every game based on their overall contribution, and Vlad has won that for TCU the past two games (for those curious, Kenny Hustle was the MVP against ULM and Desmond Bane against Tennessee Tech). He has averaged 17.3 points per game on great shooting inside (82% on 2 pointers). His eFG% is 68.8% and true shooting is 69.7%, ranking 84th and 92nd in the country respectively. He has locked players down on defense with a great 10.7% block rate ranking 42nd. He will see another tall Vlad off the New Mexico bench, the 6’10 Vladimir Pinchuk, and hopefully his deadly array of post moves combined with his ability to stretch out and shoot jumpers will allow for another big game from the Slovakian.

Prediction:

TCU has been rolling through the Emerald Coast Classic, and since the NIT last year they have won 9 straight. I see no reason why that shouldn’t extend to 10 straight Friday night. TCU will pressure New Mexico into inefficient and given away possessions, and their ability to spread it out will frustrate a New Mexico defense that is both undersized and less athletic than the Frogs. Regardless of whether or not A Rob suits up, the Frogs’ offense is just too efficient for the Lobos to handle.

Look for threes to be flying; perhaps Bane can keep up his crazy 71% shooting from behind the line. Kenny Hustle has a nice matchup on the glass, as does Kouat Noi. Vlad will be able to feast on an undersized frontcourt until Pinchuk checks in, and then he will get to prove his mettle against a taller opponent. I’m also not entirely sure how New Mexico will find their points unless McNeal and Longwood go off, and against the only somewhat comparable defense in New Mexico State they didn’t. TCU rolls to an easy win Friday night, and they’ll face either Maryland or St. Bonaventure Saturday.

Prediction: TCU 83, New Mexico 65

Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

- The Frogs are 2-0 so far in the Emerald Coast Classic, with a 100-63 win over Tennessee Tech and a 99-66 win over Omaha.

- TCU has won nine-straight games and 11 of its last 12 dating back to last season.

- TCU is looking for its second-straight regular season tournament championship after winning the Global Sports Classic last season in Las Vegas. The Frogs defeated UNLV 63-59 before beating Washington 93-80 over Thanksgiving weekend.

- TCU will be playing in the state of Florida for the first time since Feb. 9, 2004, a 54-51 win over USF in Tampa.

- TCU has started the season 4-0 for the third time in the last four seasons. The Frogs started 13-0 in 2014 and 8-0 in 2016.

- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assists (22.0, 11th), field goal percentage (52.7, 25th) and steals (9.8, 26th).

- After averaging 7.1 points as a freshman last season, Desmond Bane is averaging 15.0 points as a sophomore.

- TCU was without Alex Robinson (right foot) during its 99-66 win over Omaha.

- Vladimir Brodziansky is 45 blocks away from James Penny's school-record of 171 from 1995-98. Brodziansky currently ranks fifth in blocked shots with 126.

- TCU is receiving votes in the AP and USA Today Top 25 polls for the third consecutive week.

- 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 New Mexico

- New Mexico returned five from last season's team that finished 17-14 overall and 10-8 in the Mountain West Conference.

- The Lobos are coming off a 104-96 loss to Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. Chris McNeal had 29 points and six assists in the loss. He leads the team in scoring this season with 18.0 points per game.

- Paul Weir is in his first season as the head coach of the Lobos after one successful season as head coach at New Mexico State. Weir led the Aggies to a 28-6 record, WAC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.

About the Series

- TCU and New Mexico are meeting for the first time since both were members of the Mountain West Conference together from the 2005-06 to 2011-12 seasons.

- New Mexico leads the all-time series 16-6, including a 2-1 record over TCU in neutral site games.

- Maryland leads the all-time series 2-0 over TCU with the last meeting coming on March 26, 2005, an 85-73 win by the Terrapins.

- It would be the first meeting between TCU and St. Bonaventure.

Emerald Coast Classic

In its fourth season, this year's Emerald Coast Classic involves Jackson State, Maryland, Maryland Eastern Shore, New Mexico, Omaha, St. Bonaventure, TCU and Tennessee Tech. Past champions include Virginia (2016), Iowa State (2015) and Mississippi (2014).

On Nov. 24-25, third round and championship games will be played at The Arena on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla. All participating teams will stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Destin, Fla. TCU will arrive in the Sunshine State on Wednesday.

TCU's third round game with New Mexico and Saturday's championship game will air on CBSSN. The third-place game will be streamed at the following link: www.EmeraldCoastTV.com/ecc17

TCU will have radio coverage of every Horned Frog game with Jeff Williams and Colin Boddicker on the call.

Last Time in a Thanksgiving Tournament

Last season, TCU defeated UNLV (63-59) and Washington (93-80) to win the Global Sports Classic at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Alex Robinson has a career night against the Huskies in the final with 24 points, including a 4-of-6 effort from 3-point range. He scored 16 of his points in the second half. Robinson was named to the all-tournament team following the game. The Frogs went against the Huskies Markelle Fultz, who scored 27 points and went on to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.

26 Turnovers Forced vs. Omaha

TCU forced Omaha into 26 turnovers in its 99-66 win on Nov. 20. It was the most turnovers a TCU team had forced since Nov. 14, 2011 when Austin College had 35 turnovers. FGCU had 29 turnovers three days prior on Nov. 11, 2011. The most TCU forced last season was 25 on Nov. 26, 2016 against Washington.

All About Shooting

- Desmond Bane ranks No. 1 in field goal efficiency (100) and No. 2 in true shooting percentage (97.2) according to KenPom.com.

- Bane ranks second in the Big 12 in field goal shooting (78.6%) and fourth in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting, 12-of-17 (70.6).

- Nine different TCU players have made multiple 3-pointers.

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (52.7%) and 3-point percentage (41.6%).

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 22nd in the NCAA in field goal shooting (52.6%) and second in the Big 12 and 33rd in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (43.7%).

- Nearly half of TCU's field goals (128) were assisted (63). The Frogs rank second in the Big 12 in assists per game (22.0).

KenPom Continuity

One of the newest KenPom stats is minutes continuity. What percentage of a team's minutes are played by the same player from last season to this season. TCU ranks 34th in continuity, the best in the Big 12, at 67.5 percent. The national average tends to be 50 percent.

Good in November

The Frogs hope to continue the momentum in November like they have in the past. TCU has won 12-straight games in November, dating back to the 2015-16 season. Over the last three years, the Frogs have gone 21-2 in the month of November and was a perfect 7-0 last season as they won their first eight games of the season.