Game Time: 6:30pm CST | Location: Bramlage Coliseum - Manhattan, KS | TV: ESPNEWS | Series: Kansas State Leads 10-4 | Game Line: Kansas State -6.5
After all of the morning excitement of National Signing Day, make sure to tune in to watch TCU Basketball tonight. The Frogs will be looking to end their 4-game losing streak tonight by doing something they haven’t done since 1999: beat Kansas State in Manhattan. Tonight’s matchup is the first of three games which some could consider “must-win” games if TCU still has a chance at making the NCAA Tournament.
TCU is 2-7 against the Wildcats since joining the Big 12 and were swept last season, including a 79-54 loss in Manhattan. However, two seasons ago, the Frogs were 2-1 against them, beating them at Wilkerson-Greines and taking them down at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.
Coming into tonight, TCU is 14-7 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 play, which is tied for 6th in the conference. Their RPI is currently #50, which has them sitting right in the thick of the bubble conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Road wins carry a lot of significance in the RPI and tonight’s game as well as the trip to Norman present the best opportunities for the Frogs.
The past couple of weeks have been rough for TCU, as they have gone 0-4. Most recently, the Frogs lost 88-80 at home against Auburn as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Tigers are a good team with a group of talented freshmen, but it was definitely a win that the Frogs would have wanted on their tournament resume.
TCU kept it close throughout the game but a 25-2 run by Auburn in the 2nd half put the game at 80-59 and out of reach. The team kept it fighting and made it interesting by pulling back within single digits, but they had dug themselves to big of a hole. Kenrich Williams, who has been a star for the team this year, wasn’t able to have his typical impact due to foul trouble. However, what really hurt the Frogs was their 18 turnovers and going 9/20 at the free throw line.
That game is in the past now and TCU must find a way to focus on tonight’s game with the Wildcats. K-State enters tonight’s matchup sitting in 5th in the Big 12 at 4-4 in conference play and 15-6 overall. The only two wins they have that stand out though are their victories at Oklahoma State and at home against West Virginia. They also could have beaten Kansas in Lawrence, but got robbed by a missed traveling call.
The Wildcats are also coming into tonight off of a loss in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Kansas State ran into a surging Tennessee team in Knoxville and never really put themselves in a position to win. However, in a majority of their other losses, they have kept themselves in games until the final whistle. Four of their six losses thus far have come by 5 points or less, and their only loss at home was against #2 Baylor.
Despite their record, Kansas State is ranked #45 in the RPI and is also on the bubble still for the NCAA Tournament due to a weaker non-conference schedule. However, their situation currently looks a little bit brighter than the Frogs. Statistically, these teams are very close, but Kansas State does have an advantage from beyond the arc, where the Wildcats shoot 37.6% as opposed to TCU’s 32.7%. One area the Frogs will need to dominate however is in the post, as they lead K-State in every rebounding statistic and in blocked shots.
For the most part, Kansas State has a limited rotation in terms of minutes played. They have started the same five players in every game and only have two bench players averaging more than 10 minutes per game.
In the backcourt, the Wildcats go with two sophomore guards to start the game: Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes. Brown is the team’s leading scorer at 12.9 points per game and also leads them in steals with 2.2 per game. Stokes is 4th on the team in scoring with 11.5 points per game, but leads the team in passing with 4.5 assists per game. Senior Carlbe Ervin II is the main guard off the bench for K-State and although he doesn’t stuff the stat sheet much, he is a very capable shooter, especially from deep.
The big names for the Wildcats are in the frontcourt. Wesley Iwundu, D.J. Johnson, and Dean Wade will likely be the starters for them and all of them contribute in different ways. Johnson and Wade are the bigger of the three and both shoot a high percentage from the field. Johnson can have a major impact on the game through his rebounding efforts and ability to block shots. Iwundu is more of a scorer than the other two and is very good all-around player. He makes 47.3% of his shots from the field to go along with 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. The main forward that they use off of the bench is Xavier Sneed, whose play is similar to Johnson.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Battle of the Boards
As mentioned, one advantage that TCU has over the Wildcats is better rebounding. It will be critical for the Frogs to limit second chance opportunities for K-State and to create extra chances for themselves. Players like Kenrich and Vlad will need to make sure they are pulling down boards. Not only does TCU pull down more rebounds per game than Kansas State, they also grab the boards at a higher percentage at each end.
2 - Foul Trouble
Not having Kenrich available as much during the game really hurt TCU against Auburn, as the Tigers were able to crash the offensive glass and get second chance points. Williams fouled out with more than 7 minutes remaining and only was on the floor for 12 minutes. If TCU wants to win, they’ll need to have their best players on the floor as much as possible. On the other end of the floor, the Frogs can cause trouble if they can force the Wildcats to go deeper into their usual rotation.
3 - Free Throw Shooting
This game could easily come down to who shoots better at the free throw line. Both teams have very similar stats at the line, where TCU is shooting 68.3% and Kansas State is shooting 68.2%. The Wildcats attempt 21.7 free throws per game whereas the Frogs attempt 21.6 free throws per game. If both teams stick to their averages, then this game will be won elsewhere, but if one team has a glaring advantage at the line, it could spell doom for the other team.
This game is critical for both teams as we approach March, more so for the Frogs who are looking for a key road win. This TCU team has been cold for the past couple weeks but they seem due for a win based on how hard they’ve been playing. I expect them to come out ready to go with the Wildcats and ready to fight for a win. Hopefully, they will come out loose and not be so hesitant on the offensive end. K-State will likely be keyed in on Vlad on the defensive end, so other players will need to step. It’ll be a close game, but I expect the Frogs to pull it out.
Score Prediction: TCU 71, Kansas State 68
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- TCU is one conference win away from matching its record for most Big 12 wins of four, during the 2014-15 season.
- Only two of TCU’s six losses have come to teams outside the top 50 RPI (Auburn at 60, Texas Tech at 75).
- TCU’s NCAA RPI is 49.
- TCU is 14-4 against unranked opponents.
- The Frogs are 11-3 at home this season and 2-4 on the road.
- TCU is 13-3 when outrebounding its opponent.
- TCU is 5-1 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
- TCU is 12-1 when leading at halftime (Baylor).
- TCU is 9-2 when forcing more turnovers than it commits (Baylor, Auburn).
- TCU’s 76.0 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
- TCU is shooting 46.2 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
- TCU’s 16.8 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
- TCU’s 37.0 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
- TCU currently ranks No. 27 in the NCAA in assists (16.8).
- Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 with 9.4 rebounds per game.
- Williams ranks No. 28 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.4 average on the season.
- Williams is averaging 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds, over the last six games.
- Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
- Parrish needs to play in only two more games to move into the top-10 all-time in games played in school history.
- Karviar Shepherd is No. 6 all-time in career starts at TCU with 96. He played in his 100th game against Arkansas State
- Shepherd has tallied 603 career rebounds and needs 97 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
- Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 14 times this season.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
- Brodziansky’s 49 total blocks ranks tied for eighth for the most in school history for a single season.
- TCU’s win at Texas was it’s first in Austin in 30 years, which was Jamie Dixon’s senior year.
- TCU’s win over Iowa State was its first in 20 years.