Game Time: 4:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: Fox Sports SW | Series: First Meeting | Game Line: TCU -14.5
While all eyes will be on the TCU football team in the Big 12 championship, Saturday will also see a test for the basketball team. #23 TCU (7-0) will play host to Yale (5-4) at 4:00 PM in Schollmaier Arena, hopefully looking to add to a successful TCU sports day. The Frogs are coming off a relatively smooth win over Belmont by a score of 87-76. Vladimir Brodziansky led the way with 22 points on 8-11 shooting, including 5-6 from three. Kenrich Williams contributed yet another double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while JD Miller (16) and Desmond Bane (12) also scored in double figures. TCU dominated the glass by a 37 to 23 margin, and also allowed the Bruins to only shoot 31% from three. The Frogs also allowed only 1 offensive rebound, and they are currently #1 in the nation and keeping opponents off the offensive glass.
Yale is coming off a blowout of Bryant by a score of 84-67. Three Bulldogs were in double figures, Blake Reynolds (18), Alex Copeland (15), and Miye Oni (14), and in general their scoring was pretty evenly distributed. The Bulldogs shot a great 55% from the field and 50% from three, while holding Bryant under 40% in both categories. They also did a really good job spreading the ball around, netting 24 assists.
The star of the show for Yale is Oni, who leads the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and was an all Ivy League second team selection a year ago. Nothing really pops out at you on his stat sheet, but he is a solid distributor especially considering his size. Reynolds and Copeland are the other two Bulldogs in double digits for season average, so in that respect the Bryant game was pretty representative of how the Bulldogs want to get their points. Reynolds is definitely their most efficient scorer from beyond the arc at 44%, and maintains that efficiency within the three point line. Copeland will run a lot of the point for Yale, ranking second on the team in assist rate behind Oni. Rounding out the starting lineup are Trey Phills and Paul Atkinson. Phills runs in the backcourt with Oni and Copeland, and shoots at a solid 51% clip. Atkinson is the big man for the team, standing at 6’10 and averaging over 8 points a game.
Yale gets some solid production from their bench, namely Azar Swain and Noah Yates. They are both real three point threats, shooting 42 and 44% respectively. Despite their efficiency as well as Reynolds’s 44% shooting, Yale is not a three point shooting team first. What they are great at is converting on a large number of their two point shots, ranking 22nd in two point field goal % and 58th in eFG%. They play with a faster paced tempo and have an efficient enough offense that they will put up points in bunches. Considering they know how to make threes, it makes sense that they also defend the three at an elite level, only allowing a 27.9% opponent 3P%. On the flipside, they allow an abysmal 54.1% shooting on two pointers, one of the worst rates in Division 1. Yale has played two “A level” teams according to KenPom (Creighton and Wisconsin, their first two games) and lost by a combined score of 181-137. TCU is graded as an A level team right now, so Yale will need to bring their A game if they hope to top the Frogs.
Three Things To Look For
Take it inside
A recurring theme for the Frogs during nonconference play has been their advantage inside, and the Yale game continues this trend. As was mentioned above, Yale is awful defending inside, so TCU’s size advantage will only serve to exacerbate that weakness. Look for Vlad, who has had two nice games in a row after struggling against New Mexico, to have another big game. Atkinson is only a freshman, and he will have a tough time checking Vlad and his multitude of ways to score. The Frogs should be able to get great penetration by their guards and dominate in the painted area on offense.
Dial up the pressure
TCU has had success early this season running a full court trap, and Yale may be a team that is susceptible to turnovers if pressed. Yale’s turnover rate of 20.1% ranks 231st in the country, and TCU is the 38th best team at stealing the ball with an 11.3% rate. Individual players like Phills and Oni for Yale have been bitten by the turnover bug early this season, and TCU really needs to make them uncomfortable early. It would also be nice for Kenny to continue his solid early season play on this front and snag a few steals from the wing. Overall, TCU has a chance to really take control of the turnover battle this game, which may spell doom for the Bulldogs.
Don’t beat yourself
Everything on paper has this tilted to TCU, even considering that Yale is a pretty good team. TCU has better athletes, can cover their biggest weakness by exploiting that very problem in the other team, and has more experience and size. The worst thing that can happen in a game like this is overthinking and unforced errors. Playing the game the way we all know TCU is capable of should lead to victory in this game. Players like Alex Robinson will get a chance to clean up their game, which will be invaluable moving forward
Just like Belmont earlier in the week, TCU is a terrible matchup for Yale. This Bulldogs squad is better than a 0.500 team, but the Frogs will send them to 5-5 on Saturday. TCU is essentially a souped-up Yale with regards to their ability to spread the ball out and follow the hot hand. The Frogs also take care of the ball better and have the pure talent level to overwhelm Yale.
The Frogs bring the nation’s longest winning streak into this game, and it should grow by one more. TCU rolls to an impressive victory that vaults them into the anticipated showdown with SMU.
Prediction: TCU 85, Yale 70
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com
TCU will try for its 13th consecutive win when it hosts Yale Saturday at 7 p.m.
- TCU has won 12-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 14 of its last 16 games.
- TCU is one of 17 unbeaten teams in the nation.
- TCU is in the midst of playing six straight opponents that were picked towards the top of their conference in St. Bonaventure (2nd, A10), Belmont (1st, OVC), Yale (2nd, Ivy), SMU (4th, AAC), Nevada (1st, MWC), Texas Southern (1st, SWAC).
- TCU is ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25, its first ranking in the poll since 2014. TCU was last ranked this high on Jan. 11, 1999 at No. 21. The Frogs have received votes in every poll this season.
- TCU is one of six NCAA DI schools ranked in the Top 25 in football and men's basketball joining Alabama, Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame, USC.
- TCU is 39-16 all-time as a ranked team, including a 18-2 record at home.
- TCU has started the season 7-0 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, field goal percentage and rebound margin.
- After averaging 7.1 points as a freshman last season, Desmond Bane is averaging 13.6 points as a sophomore.
- TCU ranks fifth in the nation and second in the Big 12 with 19.9 assists per game.
- Kenrich Williams has recorded three-straight double-doubles and is averaging 12.4 points and 10.1 rebounds.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks 10th in the Big 12 in scoring at 15.7 points per game.
- Brodziansky ranks fifth in blocked shots with 128. He is 45 blocks away from James Penny's school-record of 171 (1995-98).
- 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
- Yale has won four of its last five games including an 84-67 win over Bryant last time out on Wednesday.
- The Bulldogs have won two Ivy League championships in the past three years (2015, 2016). They were picked to finish second this season.
- Yale made the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and defeated Baylor in the first round, 79-75, before falling to Duke, 71-64.
- The Bulldogs are without Makai Mason, the 2016 Ivy League Player of the Year, who suffered a right foot injury prior to the season. They are led in scoring by sophomore guard Miye Oni, who is averaging 15.6 points per game.
About The Series
- It is the first meeting between TCU and Yale.
- TCU is 2-4 all-time against current members of the Ivy League.
Feels Like The First Time
Yale is the sixth team TCU will play this season for the first time in program history. Other opponents faced for the first time were Tennessee Tech, South Dakota, Omaha, St. Bonaventure and Belmont.
Since Jamie Dixon became the head coach at TCU, the Frogs have won three of the past four tournaments it's played in. TCU won the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas with wins over UNLV and Washington (Nov. 25-26, 2016). TCU won the NIT with wins over Fresno State, Iowa, Richmond, UCF and Georgia Tech (March 15-30, 2017). The Frogs most recently won the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla. with wins over New Mexico and St. Bonaventure (Nov. 24-25, 2017). The only tournament TCU did not win under Dixon was the 2017 Big 12 Championship where the Frogs fell to Iowa State in the semifinals after wins over Oklahoma and No. 1 Kansas.
Top 25 Ranking
TCU has earned an AP Top 25 ranking for the first time in three years, coming in at No. 23 on Nov. 27. The Horned Frogs were last ranked on Dec. 22, 2014, coming in at No. 25 after sporting an 11-0 record at the time. The No. 23 ranking is TCU's highest since Jan. 11, 1999 when the Frogs were ranked No. 21. TCU earned 133 points and joined four Big 12 Conference teams, No. 2 Kansas, No. 16 Baylor, No. 19 West Virginia and No. 22 Texas Tech, in this week's rankings. Texas and Oklahoma received votes as seven of the 10 Big 12 teams earned recognition in the poll.
As a ranked team, TCU is 39-16 all-time, including 18-2 at home.
Nation's longest win streak
TCU boasts the nation's longest win streak, having won 12-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 Saturday, that last loss was 268 days ago.
- TCU's streak of 12 games is the third-longest in school history. TCU won the first 13 games of the 2014-15 season and won 14 straight during the 1987-88 season, Jamie Dixon's season year. The school record for consecutive games won is 16 set during the 1997-98 season.
- During the 12 game streak, Kenrich Williams has produced nine double-doubles and is averaging 13.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
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 26th in continuity, the best in the Big 12, at 70.1 percent. The national average tends to be 50 percent.
All About Shooting
- Desmond Bane ranks No. 1 in field goal efficiency (88.3%) and No. 2 in true shooting percentage (86.2%) according to KenPom.com.
- Bane ranks second in the Big 12 in field goal shooting (72.3%) and second in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting, 15-of-24 (62.5).
- Nine different TCU players have made multiple 3-pointers.
- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 18th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (51.4%) and second in the Big 12 and 39th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.1%).
- Over 60 percent of TCU's field goals (218) were assisted (139), a percentage of 63.8. The Frogs rank second in the Big 12 and 5th in the NCAA in assists per game (19.9).