Game Time: 8:00pm CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Kansas State Leads 10-5 | Game Line: TCU -2
It’s been a rough past few weeks for the Frogs, filled with some narrow heartbreaking defeats, but they must put that behind them for a big-time game tonight against Kansas State. TCU will be looking to sweep the Wildcats for the first time since joining the Big 12. The Frogs have only swept two teams since joining the conference, Texas Tech two seasons ago and Texas this season.
These two teams met earlier in the season in Manhattan in what was the most exciting game for the Frogs thus far this season. TCU raced out to a 29-15 lead, but a 14-0 run by the Wildcats quickly tied things up. The game remained close from then on and eventually went to OT, which is when the Frogs pulled away for the 86-80 victory. TCU was lights out from deep in that game, going 10/17 from beyond the arc.
The star of that game for the Frogs was JD Miller. He led the team with 18 points and was 7/10 from the field and was locked in on his corner threes, going 4/5 from deep. Kenrich Williams had a double-double for TCU, dropping in 11 points and grabbing 10 boards, and Alex Robinson was also good on the offensive end, adding in 12 points and 8 assists. Overall, it was a team effort as six Horned Frogs finished with double-digit scoring and the team had assists on 64.5% of their made field goals.
Last time out for TCU, they came up just short of picking up a signature win at home over now-#10 West Virginia. Jaylen Fisher was called for a questionable foul call with 4.8 seconds to go and Daxter Miles Jr. knocked down 1-of-2 free throws to take the 61-60 lead. The game would end with that score as Desmond Bane missed what would have been the game-winning buzzer-beater. It was tough loss that now has the Frogs sitting on the outside, looking in for the NCAA Tournament.
Despite the foul call, Fisher was the star of the game for TCU and finished with a game-high 18 points, 14 of which came off of threes and free throws. However, one area where Fisher struggled was ball security, as he finished the game with 6 turnovers, most of which came from bad passes. Kenrich finished the game with another double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds to go with 10 points. The Frogs were without JD Miller, who did not dress due to a groin injury. Miller’s status for tonight’s game is still up in the air, which could be a problem considering how effective he was against K-State the first time around.
Since these teams last met, Kansas State has gone 2-5, but one of those wins was a shocking upset over Baylor in Waco. The Wildcats find themselves right on the bubble with TCU and in the same situation of needing to probably win 3 more games to get into the Big Dance. K-State is currently 17-12 overall and 6-10 in conference play, which has them in a tie with the Frogs for 6th in the Big 12, but TCU has the tiebreaker via their win in Manhattan. The Wildcats are currently sitting at #68 in the RPI, whereas TCU is #60.
Kansas State comes into tonight’s game on a 2-game skid after falling at home against Oklahoma State and then losing at Oklahoma this past Saturday. They better hope the selection committee wasn’t watching their game in Norman, as they were absolutely obliterated 81-51 by the Sooners, who are in last in the Big 12. It was a terrible game offensively for K-State, turning the ball over 17 times and only shooting 25% from the field. They struggled mightily from deep, where they went 3/23. Kamau Stokes, who played a major role in the game against TCU, was 1/13 from the field and 0/7 from deep.
In the last meeting between these two teams, Stokes was able to knock down 5 threes and finished with a game-high 21 points to go with 7 assists. Xavier Sneed was the most efficient player on the court against the Frogs, finishing with 19 points and 5 rebounds in 30 minutes coming off of the bench. Sneed was 4/4 from the field, including 3/3 from deep, and went 8/9 from the free throw line. D.J. Johnson, who fouled out in the first matchup, also played well in his time on the court, scoring 14 points on 6/7 shooting and blocking 3 shots.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Taking Care of the Ball
In the recent loss against West Virginia, it is easy to point to the questionable call in the final seconds as the reason that TCU ended up losing. However, it is hard to justify saying that the Frogs should have won a game in which they had 21 turnovers.
Hypothetically, let’s assume that TCU holds on to 5 of those turnovers and goes 3/6 on shots from those possessions, assuming one offensive rebound. That right there would be 6 more points for the Frogs. On the other end, let’s take away 4 points off turnovers from the Mountaineers. That would result in a 10-point swing in TCU’s favor and would have put them in control of this game. Had the Frogs exercised better selection on some of their passes, they could have easily won this game.
With all of this being said, TCU did manage to win the game in Manhattan despite having 22 turnovers. Imagine what the Frogs might be able to do tonight if they take care of the ball.
2 - NCAA Tournament Implications
Going into Saturday’s game with West Virginia, I billed it as TCU’s most important game in a very long time. Well, now tonight’s matchup takes that title. With both teams sitting just outside the projected NCAA Tournament field, tonight’s game has major implications on who will have a chance to get to the Big Dance. This is in no way a play-in game for the Tournament, as whoever wins will still likely need to do more to get in, but, the loser will likely find themselves off of the bubble and trying to hold on for an NIT bid.
3 - Senior Day
Tonight’s game marks the final home game for four Horned Frogs. Brandon Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn, and Michael Williams will all be taking the court at Schollmaier Arena for the final time, unless TCU ends up hosting an NIT game. For the most part, these guys won’t go down in the school record books for what they did on the court, but they should be remembered for what they did off the court.
These guys, part of Trent Johnson’s first recruiting class here, have been through a lot during their time here. After going 0-18 in conference play as freshmen, this group had to put with 2 years of being in small, cramped temporary locker rooms outside the practice facility, a year and a half’s worth of home games in a high school gym filled with bright orange seats, and a coaching change.
In an era when transfers have become so common, these guys have shown great loyalty to a program that has struggled. Now, under Jamie Dixon, these four Horned Frogs have a chance to make either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. So, while these four years may not have been filled with wins on the hardwood, the impact of these four will live on as the foundation of a new era for TCU Basketball. Thank you seniors.
This game is huge for both teams and it should be very competitive from the tip. The Frogs should come in hungry for a victory after the past few weeks and should be confident about beating this team after winning in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Wildcats will be trying to shake off the effects of being blown out by 30 by the team at the bottom of the league. In the end, I think the Frogs will come away with the win in order to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive at least for a few more days. It’ll be interesting to see if any seniors step up on their day and steal the show. My money would be on Parrish.
Score Prediction: TCU 77, Kansas State 68
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- TCU is coming off a solid defensive performance where it held No. 12 WVU to a season-low 36.9 percent from the field.
- TCU’s 3-point percentage of 47.1 against the Mountaineers was its third best of the season.
- 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.
- TCU has not won a game on senior day since March 9, 2013, a 70-67 win over Oklahoma.
- In its five seasons in the Big 12, TCU has three road conference wins, two of those wins coming this season.
- Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
- TCU’s NCAA RPI is 60 and strength of schedule is 25.
- TCU’s last postseason tournament bid came in 2005 with the NIT.
- 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 13-5 at home this season and 3-7 on the road.
- TCU is 16-5 when outrebounding its opponent.
- TCU is 7-2 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
- TCU is 14-2 when leading at halftime (Baylor, WVU).
- TCU is 10-3 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
- TCU’s 73.4 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
- TCU is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
- TCU’s 16.4 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
- TCU’s 35.9 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
- TCU currently ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 26 in the NCAA in assists (16.4).
- TCU currently ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 with 4.9 blocked shots in conference play only.
- Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 40 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.
- Williams ranks second in the conference with 11 double-doubles this season.
- Jaylen Fisher is coming off a season-high 18 points. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 15 consecutive games.
- Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
- Parrish ranks third all-time in games played in school history. He is 3 away from the most in school history (129).
- Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 21 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but five games this season.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally with 2.4 blocks per game.
- Brodziansky’s 69 total blocks ranks third for the most in school history for a single season.