Game Time: 12:00 AM CST | Location: Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA | TV: ESPNU | Series: TCU leads 2-0 | Game Line: No Line
The #20 TCU Horned Frogs (9-0) will be in action real early Saturday morning, as they tip at midnight central time against the #22 Nevada Wolf Pack (8-1). The game is part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, and is TCU’s first ranked matchup (where both teams are in the top 25) since 1998. TCU secured a big win on Tuesday, knocking off SMU 94-83. The Frogs were led by a stat-stuffing Kenrich Williams, who had 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Kouat Noi (16), Desmond Bane (14), Jaylen Fisher (11), and Ahmed Hamdy (10) joined Kenny in double figures, with Jaylen also contributed 9 assists. The Frogs shot a scorching 50% from 3 and 56.5% overall, while also nailing 30/37 of their free throws. TCU won every aspect of the game except the turnover margin, giving it away 20 times and allowing SMU to get a few easy points.
The Wolf Pack are coming off their first loss of the season to Texas Tech, and 82-76 overtime defeat in Lubbock. Caleb Martin was their leading scorer with 28 points, followed by Cody Martin who had 22. They were joined in double figures by Kendall Stephens (15), while Jordan Caroline grabbed 12 rebounds. Nevada’s glaring problem on the stat sheet is the 21 turnovers, as well as 27 personal fouls compared to Tech’s 14. Having disparities in those categories proved the difference in an incredibly close game. Looking at the rest of Nevada’s schedule, they have solid wins over Rhode Island and Davidson, both at home. This will be the first neutral site game for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada profiles pretty similarly to SMU on paper. Their best two players are their frontcourt pairing of Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline. Martin is a crazy good scorer, averaging 20 points per game on 55% shooting and 50% from 3 (his 70.5% TS ranks 39th in the country). Caroline averages 17 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, and he has the ability to step out behind the line as well despite starting at center. Cody Martin is the team’s next most important player, and the one you’ll see the most as he averages 37 minutes per game. He shoots a solid 54% from the floor and is the team’s top shot blocker. Cody Martin is the glue guy for this team that, if he gets a chance, can save them when Caleb Martin and Caroline are off. Joining the Martins and Caroline in the starting lineup are the guards Kendall Stephens and Lindsey Drew. Stephens is a Purdue transfer whose main job is to stand back and drain threes. He has been streaky this year, with 4 games in double figures and 3 games being held scoreless. Drew runs the point for the Wolf Pack, and while he doesn’t shoot it a ton, he is a great distributor who rarely turns the ball over.
Off the bench, the first player Nevada will turn to is Josh Hall, another efficient scorer who can spell Stephens. Like Stephens, he has been streaky: he has been held scoreless in two consecutive games while over 60% of his points on the season came against Pacific and Davidson. Hallice Cooke will also get some burn at backup point guard. Cooke, an Iowa State transfer, is a serviceable game manager, but he really shouldn’t be expected to do all that much. Nevada will also throw Darien Williams and Elijah Foster out there to spell the bigs, though they both average under 10 minutes a game.
Nevada has a very high octane offense that is led by elite 3 point shooting. The Wolf Pack are 11th in the nation at 42.7% on threes. They also do a good job inside the paint, shooting 53.6%, and do not turn the ball over. Their only real weakness is that they don’t crash the offensive glass well. Nevada also has a pretty solid defense, hounding opponents into a mere 47% eFG. In general they’re pretty good at getting hands up on shooters, and are just a sound team on defense. Like SMU, they rely heavily on their starters to produce, namely the big three of Martin, Martin, and Caroline. They don’t have huge guys at the 4 and 5 (Martin and Caroline stand at 6’7), but their guards are much larger than the national average and thus Nevada matches up size wise with TCU as well as anyone
Three Things To Watch
Defend the three, again
Since Nevada profiles so similarly to SMU, a lot of the same principles will be needed to secure a win. The Wolf Pack’s main rotation features plenty of guys who can shoot, so the same defense that hustled against the Ponies will need to make the trip to Los Angeles. SMU shot 29% on threes against the Frogs, and a similar percentage for Nevada will spell doom against this TCU squad.
Take advantage of your size, where you can
Nevada’s guards will be bigger than TCU’s, but no one on Nevada has the length to contend with the likes of Vladimir Brodziansky. It’s been a rough few games for Vlad, so a nice game against Caroline would be huge for his own confidence moving forward. Nevada does a bad job hitting the offensive glass, which is good because TCU is really solid at preventing offensive boards (#3 in the nation). Jaylen and Desmond are both going to be giving up a few inches on defense, so they will need to work harder and play smarter to compensate.
Handle the trip
TCU has only played outside of Fort Worth twice this season, and while this is not a true road game, the Frogs need to focus and not let the bright lights in Staples distract them. Nevada is a very good team, they will likely win the Mountain West, so the Frogs will need to keep up the intensity away from home. There isn’t anything so far that suggests they can’t do that, but it is something to be mindful of especially in the preparation for Big 12 play.
The Frogs are 9-0 so far this year, and I think they extend the nation’s longest winning streak another game. TCU did a great job against SMU, and Nevada is pretty similar as a team. Another quality win for the Frogs will do wonders come March when they need help getting seeded as high as possible.
Look for big games from Vlad and Ahmed Hamdy, as the Frogs exploit the mismatch in the frontcourt. The usual suspects in Kenny Hustle and Desmond Bane will get theirs, and the Frogs at bare minimum should be able to outscore Nevada. If the Wolf Pack send the press, which they should after watching our previous few games, Jaylen Fisher will need to step up and take care of the basketball. I think he can do that, and the Frogs pull out a close one in California.
Prediction: #20 TCU 83, #23 Nevada 75
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com
- In their last game, a 94-83 win over SMU, the Frogs were without junior guard Alex Robinson (left ankle).
- TCU is one of nine unbeaten teams in NCAA DI.
- 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) and Texas Southern (1st, SWAC).
- TCU is ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25, its highest ranking since the 1997-98 season. TCU is No. 20 in the USA Today Poll.
- TCU is 24-2 against non-conference opponents under head coach Jamie Dixon. The losses are Auburn and at SMU.
- TCU is 41-16 all-time as a ranked team, including a 20-2 record at home and 4-7 record at neutral sites.
- TCU's 9-0 start to the season is its best since starting the 2014-15 season 13-0.
- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assists (6th, 20.2), field goal percentage (6th, 52.8), scoring (22nd, 87.7) and rebound margin (23rd, +9.2).
- After averaging 7.1 points as a freshman last season, Desmond Bane is averaging 14.1 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 five double-doubles and is averaging 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 66.7.
- Brodziansky ranks fifth all-time at TCU in blocked shots with 131. He is two away from fourth and 39 away from the school-record of 171.
- VCU transfer, Ahmed Hamdy is coming off 10 points vs. SMU and has made 16 of his last 23 attempts from the field.
- 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
- Nevada is coming off an 82-76 loss in overtime at Texas Tech on Tuesday, a game which it led by 11 in the second half.
- The Wolf Pack started the season 8-0, their best NCAA DI start in school history (since 1970)
- Nevada, which was the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference, earned its national ranking since final poll of the 2006-07 season. The Wolf Pack was ranked 22 in the AP Top 25 Poll and 24 in the USA Today Poll on Monday.
- Junior Caleb Martin is Nevada's leading scorer (20.0) per game and is coming off a season-high 28 points against Tech.
About The Series
- TCU leads the all-time series with Nevada, 2-0.
- The last meeting was on Feb. 17, 2001 when the two teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
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. 20, it is TCU's highest since March 6, 1998 when the Frogs were ranked No. 15. TCU's highest ranking ever is 13, achieved on Feb. 23, 1998.
- As a ranked team, TCU is 40-16 all-time, including 19-2 at home.
- With wins over Belmont, SMU and Yale, TCU defeated three-straight opponents as a ranked team for the first time since Jan. 11, 1999. Like this season, TCU's third-straight win as a ranked team was against SMU, 92-79, as the No. 21 ranked team.
- TCU last won four-straight games as a ranked team during 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 two consecutive weeks. The school record for consecutive weeks in the poll is seven, which occurred during the 1958-59 season.
- When No. 20 TCU faces No. 22 Nevada on Friday in Los Angeles, it will be the first time TCU will face 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. This was also the last time TCU played at a neutral site with an AP Top 25 ranking.
- 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's offensive efficiency ranks 13th at 115.8 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 64.5 from the field. For two-point field goals only, the duo is a combined 71.3 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. Then TCU beat Southeastern Louisiana 90-77 on Nov. 13 and Houston Baptist 90-63 on Nov. 19 to open the season. TCU last had three-straight 90-point games during the 2001-02 season.
- Desmond Bane ranks No. 1 natinoally in true shooting percentage (82.0%) and No. 2 in field goal efficiency (82.6%) and according to KenPom.com.
- Five TCU players are averaging at least one made 3-pointer per game.
- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and sixth in the NCAA in field goal shooting (52.8%) and second in the Big 12 and 21st in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.9%).
- Over 60 percent of TCU's field goals (282) were assisted (182), a percentage of 64.5. The Frogs rank second in the Big 12 and 6th in the NCAA in assists per game (20.2).
Nation's Longest Win Streak
TCU boasts the nation's longest win streak, having won 14-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 Friday, that last loss was 272 days ago.
- TCU's streak of 14 games ties for the second-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 senior season as a player. The school record for consecutive games won is 16 set during the 1997-98 season.
- During the 14-game streak, Kenrich Williams has produced 10 double-doubles and is averaging 14.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
As of Thursday, TCU is one of nine undefeated teams in NCAA DI. The Frogs are joined by Arizona State, Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, Miami, Mississippi State, Valparaiso, Villanova.
Basketball Hall of Fame Classic
TCU will participate in the second annual Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. The Frogs wrap up a one-day tripleheader at STAPLES Center with a game against Nevada at 10 p.m. PT/Midnight CT. The game follows Arizona State-St. John's at 5 p.m. PT/7 p.m. CT and USC-Oklahoma at 7:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. CT.
FW 2 LA
TCU will play Nevada in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 8 at 10 p.m. PT in STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The Frogs hope to have a lot of purple in the building due to its connection with California.
- Of the 10,394 enrolled at TCU, 1,112 are from California.
- Of the 88,000 living TCU alumni, 2,800 of them are living in California including 2,000 in Southern California and 1,300 in Los Angeles.
- TCU's last game men's basketball game in California was on Feb. 4, 2012. The Frogs fell to Mountain West Conference opponent San Diego State 83-73. TCU's last game in LA was on Dec. 19, 2011, an 83-59 loss at USC.
For the first time as a head coach, North Hollywood native Jamie Dixon will coach a team in Los Angeles.
- Dixon was born at a hospital in Burbank on Nov. 10, 1965. He attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks.
- Dixon earned All-Del Rey League and All-California Interscholastic Federation honors as a basketball player.
- Dixon later came back to the area as an assistant coach from 1989-91 at Los Angeles Valley Junior College.
- Dixon then became a graduate assistant at UC-Santa Barbara from 1991-92 and earned a masters degree in economics from the school in 1992.
- Jamie's parents, Jim and Marge Dixon still live in the same North Hollywood home he grew up in. Jamie's sister Julie is an attorney for Los Angeles County.
Here is a breakdown of win/loss records when outrebounding opponents.
- TCU this season: 9-0
- TCU under Dixon: 31-5
- TCU over the last three seasons: 40-6
- Jamie Dixon coached teams: 295-53