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TCU Basketball Preview: Kansas (Round 2)

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Can the Frogs shock the world in Lawrence?

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 6:00pm CST | Location: Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, KS | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Kansas Leads 13-1 | Game Line: Kansas -12

After dropping their past three games, TCU’s NCAA Tournament hopes have taken a hit, but they’re not done yet. However, the road for the Frogs does not get any easier as they have to take on Big 12 leader Kansas in Lawrence tonight. TCU won their first Big 12 meeting with the Jayhawks, 62-55 in Fort Worth in 2013 in what was one of the greatest college basketball upsets of all time, but have lost every meeting since then. However, the Frogs have managed to play Kansas tight in Lawrence the past two seasons, losing each by only single digits.

When these two teams met in Fort Worth, the Frogs jumped out to a 22-12 lead in the 1st half, but Kansas slowly clawed their way back and managed to take a 29-28 lead. After that, the Jayhawks would never trail for the remainder of the game and ended up winning 86-80. The Frogs played well in that game and shot a higher percentage than the Jayhawks from the field and from three, but the main difference was TCU’s 15 turnovers to Kansas’ 8.

The first matchup served as a breakout game for Vladimir Brodziansky, who dropped 28 points on the Jayhawks and was 10/11 from the line. His 9 rebounds and 3 blocks were also helpful, but relative to Landen Lucas’ numbers, it wasn’t enough. Kenrich Williams played well also, finishing with a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. One player who struggled was freshman point guard Jaylen Fisher, who only scored 4 points in 38 minutes. Fisher did manage to have 9 assists, but he also led the team with 5 turnovers.

In their last game out, TCU did decently out of the gate against Iowa State, but the Cyclones took over with 5 minutes to go in the 1st half. They took a 25-23 lead and never looked back, winning 84-71. The Frogs didn’t play a terrible game, but they were sloppy with the ball on offense and couldn’t keep the Cyclones’ three point shooters in check. TCU ended the game with 19 turnovers and allowed Iowa State to go 12/25 from beyond the arc.

The two main bright spots for the Frogs in that game was the production from Alex Robinson and Desmond Bane. Robinson was fantastic attacking the basket and finished the game with 16 points on 7/13 shooting to go along with 8 assists. Bane played 15 minutes off of the bench, but was extremely efficient. He finished the game with 7 points on 3/4 shooting and grabbed 5 boards. Bane also knocked down his only free throw attempt and had 0 turnovers. Another bright spot for TCU was that all five starters managed to get to double-digit scoring, which indicates a balanced attack.

Since these teams opened up Big 12 play against each other, Kansas has gone 12-2, including a sweep of Baylor and a win at Kentucky. Their only two losses came in Morgantown and at home against Iowa State. The loss at home against the Cyclones ended what had been a 50+ game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse. They are currently 24-3 overall and 12-2 atop the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks are on their way to being a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and are currently ranked #1 in the RPI. With a win over the Frogs, Kansas can clinch their 13th-straight Big 12 regular season title.

The Jayhawks are coming off of a fantastic week for them, during which they picked up wins over current #12 West Virginia and at #9 Baylor, strengthening Kansas’ grip on the top spot in the Big 12. However, in both games, they needed strong closing efforts in order to come back and win in the final minutes. Star guard Frank Mason led the team, averaging 23.5 points per game last week as well as 6.5 assists. He was also an incredible 24/26 from the free throw line over the two games.

In the last meeting between these teams, Frank Mason led the way for Kansas with 22 points and 7 assists, but it was Landen Lucas who may have had the biggest impact on the outcome. Lucas finished the game with 15 points and 17 rebounds, 7 of which came at the offensive end. He created numerous second chances for the Jayhawks, which is something TCU can’t let happen again. Star freshman Josh Jackson struggled against the Frogs, fouling out in only 13 minutes of action and going 2/8 from the field. If TCU can make him repeat that performance, then they might stand a chance.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Stopping Limiting Frank Mason

Frank Mason has been nothing short of spectacular for Kansas in his senior season and he is the main reason so many people believe this year’s Jayhawks have a legitimate chance of winning it all this season. He is averaging a team-leading 20.3 points per game and has scored in double-digits in every game but one. He has also had 4 or more assist in all but six games. While it’ll be difficult for the Frogs to stop Mason completely, if they can limit him to about 15 points and 5 assists, they could have a chance to win. Kansas has a very deep team, but TCU needs to put pressure on others besides Mason to step up.

2 - Being Ready for the Phog

Phog Allen Fieldhouse is a special place. Regardless of who the Jayhawks are playing, the fans there show up and are loud from start to finish. There is a good reason that Kansas has one of the best home court advantages and was able to win 50+ straight games at home: the fans. Tonight’s game carries even more significance as they can clinch their 13th-straight Big 12 regular season title. This year’s Frogs have not played in any environment like Allen Fieldhouse, so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.

3 - Controlling the Paint

One area that TCU got bullied by Kansas was the paint, especially on the defensive end. The Frogs easily could have won that game if they had kept the Jayhawks off the offensive glass a little better and limited their second chance opportunities. Kansas had 14 offensive rebounds, 7 of which were pulled down by Landen Lucas, which he then turned into easy put backs. I expect to see Dixon play Karviar Shepherd and Chris Washburn more this time around in order to compete with the Jayhawks’ physicality.

Prediction:

A win tonight for the Frogs would send shock waves through the college basketball landscape and would make TCU fans much more confident in the team’s NCAA Tournament chances. On the flip side, a loss would extend the Frogs’ losing streak to four, but losing on the road against the top-ranked team in the RPI would not hurt TCU horribly. It would be another lost opportunity for a signature win, but it wouldn’t drop them far. In the end, I think TCU manages to take the Jayhawks to the wire in Lawrence, but falls just short on shocking the world.

Score Prediction: Kansas 79, TCU 73

Fan Poll:

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Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

  • Going from 12-21 last season to 17-10 this season, TCU is the 18th most-improved team among NCAA DI schools.
  • In its five seasons in the Big 12, TCU has three road conference wins, two of those wins coming this season.
  • In 12 Big 12 games, Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
  • TCU’s NCAA RPI is 58 and strength of schedule is 32.
  • TCU last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 with its last win in the tournament coming in 1987 when Dixon was a player.
  • The Frogs are 13-4 at home this season and 3-6 on the road.
  • TCU is 16-4 when outrebounding its opponent.
  • TCU is 7-2 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
  • TCU is 14-1 when leading at halftime (Baylor).
  • TCU is 10-3 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
  • TCU’s 74.5 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
  • TCU is shooting 46.5 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
  • TCU’s 16.6 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
  • TCU’s 35.7 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
  • TCU currently ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 23 in the NCAA in assists (16.6).
  • Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 49 in the NCAA with 9.0 rebounds per game.
  • Williams ranks No. 26 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.2 average on the season.
  • Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
  • Parrish ranks fourth all-time in games played in school history. He is 6 away from the most in school history (129).
  • Karviar Shepherd has tallied 616 career rebounds and needs 82 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
  • Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 20 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but four games this season.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 29th nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
  • Brodziansky’s 61 total blocks ranks seventh for the most in school history for a single season.