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TCU Basketball Preview: West Virginia (Round 2)

The Frogs welcome the Mountaineers to Fort Worth seeking a signature win in the team’s most important home game in a very long time.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 1:00pm CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN | Series: West Virginia Leads 10-0 | Game Line: West Virginia -5.5

After dropping their fourth consecutive game on Wednesday in Lawrence, TCU returns home trying to flip the script. Today, they must face #12 West Virginia, a program they have never beaten, hoping to win and secure a marquee win for the Frogs’ NCAA Tournament resume. However, TCU has always managed to make things interesting against the Mountaineers in Fort Worth.

When these two teams met in Morgantown in January, West Virginia never trailed, but the Frogs were within 5 points as late as the 5-minute mark of the 2nd half. The ‘eers went on to win the game 82-70 by forcing 18 TCU turnovers. There were some things that the Frogs did well against Press Virginia, including free throw shooting and good bench play.

TCU’s bench outscored West Virginia’s 25-19, but it was the shooting struggles by the Frogs’ starters that cost them. Alex Robinson led TCU in scoring with 17 points but was 3/9 from the field. Kenrich Williams, who usually is one of the Frogs’ most efficient players, struggled and was 3/14 from the field. Vladimir Brodziansky was the most efficient TCU player in Morgantown, dropping in 14 points on 5/6 shooting.

In TCU’s last game, the Frogs gave #3 Kansas everything they could handle in the 1st half, but couldn’t keep up with the Jayhawks in the final 20 minutes. Kansas went on to win 87-68 and clinched a share of their 13th-straight Big 12 title, a feat that ties the NCAA record set by UCLA during the John Wooden years. The Frogs only turned it over 9 times in the game, but struggled to get any shots to fall in the 2nd half and only shot 39.1% for the game. They started off hot from three point range, but fell off as the game progressed and finished at 26.1%.

Robinson once again led the Frogs offensively, knocking down a couple threes and attacking the basket well. He finished with 15 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Kenrich was a monster on the glass against the Jayhawks and had a game-high 12 rebounds to go with 6 points and 4 assists. Vlad, who dropped 28 points against Kansas in Fort Worth, was limited to only 8 points in 20 minutes of action.

Since these teams last met, West Virginia has gone 9-4, including home victories over Baylor, ranked #1 at the time, and Kansas, ranked #2 at the time. The Mountaineers are currently 22-6 overall and 10-5 in the Big 12, which has them in a tie for 2nd with Baylor and Iowa State. This could be a benefit for the Frogs, as West Virginia still has to play both of those teams this week before the Big 12 Tournament and could be looking forward to those games. The Mountaineers also may be caught a little relaxed since they are already a lock to make the NCAA Tournament.

Press Virginia comes into today’s game after winning their past two matchups against Texas Tech and Texas, both at home. They beat the Longhorns on Monday 77-62 thanks to a big game from Jevon Carter. He finished with a double-double, dropping in 24 points and grabbing 10 boards. The Mountaineers also got a monster game from Lamont West off of the bench. West scored 23 points by going 7/10 from the field, including 6/8 from beyond the arc, so I’m sure he’ll have TCU’s attention.

Last time these two teams met, the Mountaineers were led by Daxter Miles Jr. and Esa Ahmad. Miles led the team in scoring with 22 points and also grabbed 7 rebounds and Ahmad added in another 16 points on 7/11 shooting. Carter played well for West Virginia, knocking down some key threes, and they got a big performance from Sagaba Konate off of the bench, who finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds in 15 minutes.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Full-Court Pressure

Press Virginia is once again living up to its name and we all know that the Mountaineers will come out and try to pressure the Frogs into as many mistakes as possible. In Morgantown, TCU turned the ball over 18 times and that turned out to be the major difference in the game. West Virginia leads the nation in turnovers forced per game at 21.6 turnovers and has used that to create their own scoring opportunities. It’ll be imperative that the Frogs are patient in breaking the press, but attack it as soon as it is broken.

2 - Off-Court Pressure

There is a lot of pressure on the Frogs coming from off the court as well. TCU has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, but their chance has been dwindling during this 4-game skid. Today’s game is TCU’s most important home game in a long time and for sure the biggest game they have played in Fort Worth since joining the Big 12. If the Frogs just go out and play well by taking care of the ball and getting to the rim, then they should be able to take care of business. I expect fans to turn out for this game big time in order to create a raucous environment at Schollmaier Arena.

3 - JD Miller

In the first matchup between these teams, JD Miller was on a cold streak and was not a factor at all. He missed his only shot, grabbed one rebound, and turned it over once in only 7 minutes of action, despite starting the game. However, since the Big 12/SEC Challenge game against Auburn, Miller has been playing with a ton of confidence. As one of the most athletic players on the roster, Miller could have a major impact on the offensive end. When TCU breaks and attacks the press, it could create opportunities for Miller to either attack the rim or to knock down some corner threes.

Prediction:

Today, I expect the Frogs to finally add a signature win to their resume and to finally beat West Virginia for the 1st time in program history. I expect TCU to attack the press and to create some good opportunities around the rim. A win today would put the Frogs right back on track to get to the NCAA Tournament, something that many people did not think possible in Jamie Dixon’s first year as coach here. I look forward to seeing a lot of fight out of TCU today.

Score Prediction: TCU 83, West Virginia 71

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

  • TCU is in sixth place in the Big 12 standings with three games to play. The Frogs were picked last (10th) in the preseason poll.
  • Going from 12-21 last season to 17-11 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 53 and strength of schedule is 26.
  • 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 3-7 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 74.3 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 16.5 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
  • TCU's 35.8 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 (16.5).
  • TCU currently ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 with 4.8 blocked shots in conference play only.
  • Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 44 in the NCAA with 9.2 rebounds per game.
  • Williams ranks No. 28 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 third all-time in games played in school history. He is 4 away from the most in school history (129).
  • Karviar Shepherd has tallied 618career rebounds and needs 80 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
  • Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 21 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 26th nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
  • Brodziansky's 65 total blocks ranks fifth for the most in school history for a single season.