Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: Fox Sports SW | Series: TCU leads 3-1 | Game Line: No line
The #14 TCU Horned Frogs (10-0) will be in action for the first time in almost two weeks Monday night, as they get ready to take on the Texas Southern Tigers (0-11). The Frogs will enter the contest as one of four remaining unbeatens in Division 1 men’s hoops, and additionally still sport the nation’s longest active winning streak. Their latest win came December 8 against the Nevada Wolf Pack by a score of 84-80. Jaylen Fisher led the way with 20 points and 6 assists on 5/7 shooting (3/3 from three). Kenrich Williams contributed another double double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while JD Miller (12), Vladimir Brodziansky (11), and Alex Robinson (10) also hit double figures scoring. The team shot a blistering 56% from both the field and three, and pulled out the win despite losing the rebounding battle 36-27.
The Tigers have had a rough go of it to start the season, and their 72-66 defeat at the hands of Wyoming was a continuation of that trend. They did get a solid performance from Demontrae Jefferson, who put up 27 points in 38 minutes before fouling out. Donte Clark also added 11 points, while Robert Lewis was the only other player in double figures with 10. The Tigers shot a horrid 36% from the field and 57% from the line, but had their three point shooting (41%) and defense (8 steals) keep them competitive. The Tigers may be 0-11, but they have faced the toughest schedule in America, having 0 home games and facing off against the likes of Gonzaga, Baylor, Syracuse, and Kansas on their home courts. It’s for this reason that the Tigers are still ranked a reasonable 214 in the Kenpom rankings, more than 100 spots above the next winless team.
The diminutive Jefferson is clearly the best player on the Tigers. Standing at 5’7, the sophomore guard averages 23 points a game and has a solid stroke from 3, hitting on 42% of his shots. He doubles as their lead distributor as well, initiating the offense and leading the team with 31 assists on the year. Clark, a UMass transfer, is the team’s secondary scorer, averaging 16 points a game, but he is generally more inefficient putting it in the basket. The 16 points is impressive on first glance, but he chucks up over 14 shots a game to get there, resulting in a subpar 42% eFG. The other player averaging double figures for the Tigers is senior guard Kevin Scott, but he has not played in the month of December due to injury. If he does play, he profiles pretty similarly to Clark. Replacing Scott will likely be Robert Lewis, whose main quality is to occasionally knock down some threes. Lewis will likely use a ton of possessions, which will instead go to Oregon State transfer Derrick Bruce. Bruce suffers from the same inefficiency problems as many of his teammates, and he has a penchant for turning it over, but he has shown himself as capable of scoring when called upon. Rounding out the starting lineup will be big man Trayvon Reed. Reed is a towering 7’2, really standing out compared to his small teammates, and as you would expect he is a solid rebounder and shot blocker. An Auburn transfer, he averages a near double double at 9.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game, but has struggled to score the ball in the month of December.
If Lewis is called on to the starting lineup, the Tigers really don’t bring anyone of note off the bench. The primary guy will likely be senior Lamont Walker, who is a solid rebounder and scores efficiently inside. Marquis Salmon will also see some burn, but he is incredibly passive, having only 14 shot attempts on the year. Brian Carey is the team’s backup point guard, standing at 5’10, but he has a turnover bug that has rendered him unplayable at points this year. Freshman Cainian McClelland is the only other player that sees meaningful action, but his minutes have been erratic at best and it’s therefore hard to get a meaningful analysis of such a young player’s game.
The biggest problem for Texas Southern thus far has been their defense, which is among the worst in the nation. Teams score quickly and often, with a team defensive rating of 108.2 (260th) and an average opponent possession length of 15.4 seconds (7th shortest in the country). Southern gets no semblance of pressure, with a 16.4 turnover rate ranking 310th in the country, and eventually teams score inside at a very healthy clip. The presence of Reed helps with the block numbers, but his rim protection only does so much for a team lacking any semblance of other size. Offensively, the Tigers take care of the ball, but ultimately have a tough time putting the ball in the hole. Their lack of size may be a contributor in why they struggle to score so much, and they may need to pray for a hot streak from 3 to beat even marginally more talented teams. This is a team full of transfers and young guys, making their brutal schedule even harder for a team looking to find its identity early.
Three Keys to the Game
Ignore that big guy, you have the size advantage
The presence of Trayvon Reed appears intimidating, but the Tigers are actually one of the smallest teams in America on the aggregate. They start a 6’5 player at the 4, and their point guard (Jefferson) is Jose Altuve-sized. A big part of the Tigers’ woes have been because they are simply outsized, and they would appear to be in big trouble with a pretty big TCU team. The Frogs have dominated the boards and had their way inside this season, and the Tigers seem ill-prepared to stop them in any meaningful way.
Lock in on Jefferson
Demontrae Jefferson is a tiny dude, but he has scored 20 points in all but one game this season. An ideal situation would be to lock him up like Oregon did. He still scored 16 points, but it was on 5/21 shooting and saw him have 5 assists to 4 turnovers. Jefferson will get his, but as the engine that drives his team’s offense, limiting his efficiency will hamstring the Tigers early.
Don’t look ahead
The fact is, this is a horribly unbalanced matchup. There is no line posted as of the writing of this article, but if I had to guess, it’ll open in the high 20s or low 30s. The Frogs cannot look ahead to the upcoming slate, they just need to put their heads down and notch win #11. Don’t play down to the competition and put this one away early. I have faith that the long break has allowed the guys to refocus and reenergize, but this is always a concern when playing a clearly inferior team.
As I said above, this is a comically unbalanced mismatch. The Frogs are the exact kind of team that Texas Southern dreads playing, and their long road trip doesn’t appear to be looking up after this game. Expect big games from guys on the wings like Kenny Hustle, JD Miller, and Desmond Bane, who will have massive size advantages over the point guard-sized wings put out by the Tigers. The ball movement of the Frogs’ offense will get Reed out of position, neutralizing his shot blocking and opening up opportunities for Vlad and Ahmed Hamdy. Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher will get a nice defensive test on Jefferson, but they should also be able to exploit him on defense.
The Frogs will run away with this game early, hopefully earning playing time for guys like Dalton Dry and Clayton Crawford. Everything about this game just screams blowout. Hopefully the Frogs stay focused and ready, handle their business, and get geared up for William & Mary later this week.
Prediction: #14 TCU 95, Texas Southern 70
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com
- At halftime, TCU will honor Fort Worth coaching legend and 2017 Naismith Hall of Famer Robert Hughes.
- TCU has won 15-straight games, the longest streak in the nation, dating back to last season. Its last loss was March 10, 2017 against Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships. TCU has also won 17 of its last 19 games.
- The Frogs are coming off an 84-80 win over Nevada in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Los Angeles.
- TCU is one of four unbeaten teams in NCAA DI.
- Texas Southern will be TCU’s sixth straight opponent that was picked towards the top of its conference. St. Bonaventure (2nd, A10), Belmont (1st, OVC), Yale (2nd, Ivy), SMU (4th, AAC), Nevada (1st, MWC) and Texas Southern (1st, SWAC).
- TCU is ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25, its highest ranking since the 1997-98 season. TCU is No. 14 in the USA Today Poll.
- TCU is 25-2 against non-conference opponents under head coach Jamie Dixon. The losses are Auburn and at SMU.
- TCU is 42-16 all-time as a ranked team, including a 20-2 record at home.
- TCU’s 10-0 start to the season is its best since starting the 2014-15 season 13-0.
- TCU ranks among the national leaders in field goal percentage (2nd, 53.1), assists (7th, 19.2), 3-point percentage (7th, 43.1) and scoring (17th, 87.3).
- After averaging 7.1 points as a freshman last season, Desmond Bane is averaging 13.2 points as a sophomore.
- Bane has scored in double-figures every game and has been one of the best shooters in the country.
- Kenrich Williams has recorded six double-doubles and is averaging 14.2 points and a Big 12 best 10.1 rebounds.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks fourth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 65.8.
- Brodziansky ranks fourth all-time at TCU in blocked shots with 134. He is 32 away from third and 37 away from the school-record of 171.
- VCU transfer, Ahmed Hamdy has been efficient over the last three games, having made 12 of his last 15 field goal attempts.
- TCU returned its top six scorers from last season’s team that went 24-15, finished tied for seventh in the Big 12 and won the NIT, including all five starters. It’s the first time Jamie Dixon has had a team with every starter returning from the year before.
- TCU returned 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 the Opponent
- Texas Southern is opening the season with 13-straight road games before conference play begins Jan. 1 vs. Southern.
- Under Mike Davis, the Tigers have won the SWAC in four of five years, including last season when they finished 23-12.
- Texas Southern is led by sophomore guard Demontrae Jefferson with a team-best 22.8 points and 3.4 assists per game.
- The Tigers have played two Big 12 opponents already this season. TSU lost at Kansas, 114-71, and at Baylor, 99-68.
About The Series
- TCU leads the all-time series with Texas Southern 3-1.
- TCU won last season’s meeting, 96-59, exactly a year from Monday on Dec. 18, 2016.
Honoring Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes was a three-time all-SWAC guard at Texas Southern from 1951-54 before becoming a coaching icon. Hughes finished his coaching career as the all-time winningest boys’ basketball coach in the United States. He amassed 1,333 games at Dunbar and Terrell in a 47-year career. Hughes was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Expected to be in attendance are former TCU players Anthony Burks, the school’s all-time leading scorer Darrell Browder and the first African American to play in the Southwest Conference, Dr. James Cash.
Solid Week for Kenrich
In TCU’s last week of competition, Kenrich Williams averaged 21.5 points and 10.0 rebounds and shot 72.2 percent from the field and 87.5 percent (7-8) from 3-point range in wins over SMU and Nevada. The senior scored a career-high 27 points and added nine rebounds and five assists, while playing in all 40 minutes in a 94-83 win over SMU on Dec. 5. Williams was 5-of-6 from 3-point range, a career high for makes. On Dec. 8, he recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in an 84-80 win over No. 22 ranked Nevada in Los Angeles at the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
Top 25 Ranking
TCU is ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll this season for the first time in three years. The Frogs debuted at No. 23 on Nov. 27. Prior to this season, TCU was last ranked on Dec. 22, 2014, coming in at No. 25 after sporting an 11-0 record at the time. Now at No. 14, it is TCU’s highest since Feb. 23, 1998 when the Frogs were ranked 13th, the highest in school history.
- As a ranked team, TCU is 41-16 all-time, including 19-2 at home.
- With wins over Belmont, Nevada, SMU and Yale. TCU defeated four-straight opponents as a ranked team for the first time since the 1997-98 season when it won five straight from Feb. 19,1998 to March 5, 1998.
- TCU has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for three consecutive weeks. The school record for consecutive weeks in the poll is seven, which occurred during the 1958-59 season.
- When No. 20 TCU faced No. 22 Nevada in Los Angeles, it was the first time TCU faced a ranked team, while also ranked since March 6, 1998 when No. 20 New Mexico defeated No. 15 TCU 80-73 in the second round of the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
- TCU is one of five NCAA DI schools ranked in the Top 25 in football and men’s basketball joining Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame and USC.
Shooting and Scoring
- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and second in the NCAA in field goal shooting (53.1%) and first in the Big 12 and seventh in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (43.1%).
- Over 60 percent of TCU’s field goals (312) were assisted (192), a percentage of 61.5. The Frogs rank second in the Big 12 and seventh in the NCAA in assists per game (19.2).
- TCU's offensive efficiency ranks 12th at 116.7 according to KenPom.com.
- Perhaps TCU's efficiency from its No. 5 position has been the most impressive. Starter Vladimir Brodziansky and backup Ahmed Hamdy have combined to shoot 64.7 from the field. For two-point field goals only, the duo is a combined 69.8 percent.
- TCU defeated Yale 92-66 and SMU 94-83. It was the first time TCU had scored 90 points in consecutive games since the 2015-16 season. That season, TCU beat Southeastern Louisiana 90-77 on Nov. 13 and Houston Baptist 90-63 on Nov. 19 to open the season.
- Desmond Bane ranks No. 1 nationally in true shooting percentage (80.1%) and field goal efficiency (80.3%) according to KenPom.com.
- TCU has five among the top 15 in 3-point field goal percentage in the Big 12 including the top three... 1. Desmond Bane - 55.8, 2. Kenrich Williams - 48.4, T3. Kouat Noi - 48.1, 11. Vladimir Brodziansky - 43.5, 15. Jaylen Fisher - 41.7.
- Five TCU players are averaging at least one made 3-pointer per game.
Nation’s Longest Win Streak
TCU boasts the nation’s longest win streak, having won 15-straight games dating back to last season. The Frogs’ last lost came on March 10, 2017, against Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship. As of Monday, that last loss was 283 days ago.
- TCU’s streak of 15 games is the second-longest in school history. The school record for consecutive games won is 16 set during the 1997-98 season.
- TCU’s 10-straight wins this season are its most to start a season since the first 13 games of the 2014-15 season before finishing 18-15.
- TCU won 14 straight during the 1987-88 season, Jamie Dixon’s senior season as a player.
- During the 15-game streak, Kenrich Williams has produced 11 double-doubles and is averaging 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Kenrich Williams graduated from TCU in December. The Waco native earned his degree in sociology. He joined his two brothers as the only ones in his family to earn a college degree. Also earning their degrees were Chris Washburn and Michael Williams, who exhausted their eligibility last season.
Bane - “Most Exciting Players”
On Dec. 13, ESPN’s Myron Medcalf named Desmond Bane one of his nine Most Exciting Players in the nation. Medcalf mentioned Bane’s shooting accuracy including his 3-point range: “And he is shooting some of them from Waco, Dallas and Lubbock. If you’re into hot hands, check out Bane, who is one of America’s top marksmen right now.”
As of Sunday, TCU is one of four undefeated teams in NCAA DI. The Frogs are joined by Arizona State, Miami, Villanova.