Game Time: 6:00pm CST | Location: Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Iowa State Leads 10-6 | Game Line: Iowa State -4
The TCU Horned Frogs have advanced to the Big 12 Tournament Semifinals for the 1st time in school history by taking down the #1 seed and the #1 team in the nation, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Frogs were able to come away with the 85-82 victory yesterday after defeating Oklahoma 82-63 in the First Round on Wednesday night. The wins essentially lock up an NIT bid, which is good, but the win over the Jayhawks has TCU fans thinking the Frogs can make a run.
In the opening game against Oklahoma, it was a trio of starters that led the way and helped fuel TCU to victory. Vladimir Brodziansky, Kenrich Williams, and Alex Robinson combined to score 56 points on 24/33 shooting and also combined for 19 rebounds and 14 assists. As a team, the Frogs shot an impressive 60% from the field and assisted on 20 of 33 made field goals while only turning it over 8 times.
That win gave the Frogs a date with the Jayhawks, and TCU took advantage of it. Although Kansas was without Josh Jackson, they faced a TCU squad that seemed like they were going to refuse to lose. Kenrich once again put on a stellar performance, finishing with 18 points as well as 8 rebounds and 5 assists. However, the star of the game was the Frogs’ freshman from Indiana, Desmond Bane. He finished with 16 points, 12 of which came in the 2nd half, and knocked down the 3 free throws with 2.5 seconds left to give TCU the 85-82 victory.
As great as yesterday was, the Frogs must now turn their attention to #4 seed Iowa State. The Cyclones advanced to the Semifinals by knocking off the #5 seed, Oklahoma State, 92-83. They were absolutely on fire on offense, shooting 53.6% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. They also assisted on 21 of their 30 made field goals and only turned it over 11 times. Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas each knocked down 3 threes, but the star of the game was Monte Morris. He nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 21 points on 9/15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Frogs will have their hands full tomorrow on defense, but they have proven they can beat Iowa State. TCU won the matchup in Fort Worth 84-77 earlier in the year thanks to a monster effort from Vlad. The Slovakian finished that game with 25 points on 11/14 shooting and also pulled down 14 rebounds, taking advantage of the Cyclones’ small lineup. Kenrich finished that game with a double-double by dropping in 13 points and grabbing 13 boards. Brandon Parrish and Bane had solid nights off the bench that night, scoring 15 and 12, respectively.
In Fort Worth, TCU was able to contain the Cyclones by limiting the production of Morris and Deonte Burton. Morris finished with 9 points on 4/14 shooting to go with 8 assists and Burton only had 5 points on 1/10 shooting. Mitrou-Long led Iowa State in that game with 19 points and Donovan Jackson provided a lift off the bench with 16 points.
When the teams met in Ames, it was a different story, as Iowa State was able to control the game for the final 25 minutes en route to an 84-71 victory. In that game, all 5 TCU starters scored in double-digits, but did not get nearly enough help from the bench. Robinson led the Frogs with 16 points in that game, but TCU’s 19 team turnovers made it difficult to get any flow on offense. They also had to go up against the Cyclones when they were locked in on offense.
Iowa State shot 50.9% from the field when they were at home and went 12/25 from deep. They also went 18/21 from the free throw line, whereas TCU went 5/8. Mitrou-Long torched the Frogs with 25 points and was an incredible 7/12 from beyond the arc. They also got much better production from Morris and Burton, who each had 18 points in the 2nd matchup. Morris also had 11 assists in that game and helped get open looks for Mitrou-Long.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Bench Production
Yesterday’s victory over the Jayhawks was due in large part to the play of the Horned Frogs bench. Kansas uses a very limited rotation and it showed on the court, as TCU’s bench outscored Kansas’ bench 34-3. In addition to Bane’s 16 points, Parrish contributed 12 points and Karviar Shepherd added in another 6 points.
Bench production could be key in today’s game as well. Since it’ll be the 3rd game of the tournament for TCU, the Frogs will likely need to rotate more and get productive minutes from the bench. Also, bench scoring was an indicator against the Cyclones, as TCU won when they got 33 points off the bench, but lost when they were held to 13 points .
2 - Defending the Three
If there is one thing that Iowa State knows how to do, it’s shooting from beyond the arc. The Cyclones have 3 players in the top 10 of the Big 12 in terms of three point field goal percentage, and Thomas and Mitrou-Long combine to average more than 5 made threes per game. In both games these teams played, Iowa State shot well from deep, so TCU can beat them if they get going, but it’ll make things much more difficult. Lucky for the Frogs though, they can stay outside more and pressure the ball because the Cyclones lack a dominant interior big man.
3 - Finishing Halves Strong
One thing that TCU has benefited from in each of the first two Big 12 Tournament games is strong finishes to their halves. In the 1st half of the Oklahoma game, they closed on a 15-2 run to take a 13-point lead into the half. In the 1st half of yesterday’s game, the Frogs trailed 39-27 with 4:23 to go, but closed on a 16-3 run to take a 43-42 lead into halftime. TCU also finished the game against Kansas on a 7-0 run to win after going down 80-76 with 2:19 left in the game. The Frogs have shown great resilience and grit in both games, but they’ll need to show it again in order to win tonight.
Why not us? TCU is playing its best basketball of the season and they’re doing it at just the right time. Of course, the Cyclones enter tomorrow’s game playing their best basketball as well, but something just seems special right now about this TCU team. Look for more big smiles from Kenrich, Robinson, and Parrish at the end of this game.
Score Prediction: TCU 88, Iowa State 81
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com (prior to Big 12 Tournament):
- TCU has been to the NCAA Tournament seven times, but has never won a conference tournament.
- Vladimir Brodziansky (Second Team and All-Defensive), Jaylen Fisher (Honorable Mention), Alex Robinson (All-Newcomer) and Kenrich Williams (Honorable Mention) all earned postseason honors from the Big 12 Conference.
- Brodziansky was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the AP.
- TCU finished in eighth place in the Big 12 standings, the highest in its five seasons in the league.
- Jamie Dixon has won the most games of any TCU head coach in his first year with the program.
- TCU's seven-game slide is the second longest losing streak of Dixon's career. He lost eight straight in 2011-12 at Pittsburgh.
- 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 79 and strength of schedule is 30.
- TCU's last postseason tournament bid came in 2012 with the CBI.
- TCU last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 with its last win in the tournament coming in 1987 when Dixon was a player.
- TCU last played in the NIT in 2005.
- 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 10-4 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
- TCU's 73.6 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 16.6 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).
- TCU currently ranks No. 3 in the Big 12 and 37th in the NCAA in blocked shots (4.7).
- At 13-6, it's TCU's most wins at home since a 14-3 home record during the 2011-12 season.
- Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 37 in the NCAA with 9.4 rebounds per game.
- Williams ranks No. 23 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.31 average on the season.
- Williams ranks first in the conference with 13 double-doubles this season.
- Jaylen Fisher leads the Big 12 freshmen in assists per game at 4.3. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 17 consecutive games.
- Brandon Parrish ranks third all-time in games played in school history. He is 1 away from the most in school history (129).
- Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 23 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but five games this season.
- Robinson passed Jamie Dixon (86-87) for 10th for the most assists in a season at TCU with 169.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
- Brodziansky's 72 total blocks ranks as the third most in school history for a single season.