Game Time: 6:00pm CST | Location: Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO | TV: ESPNU | Series: Oklahoma Leads 19-3 | Game Line: TCU -1
TCU enters the Big 12 Tournament on a seven-game skid. At one point this season, the Frogs were projected to be as high as a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but their recent slide now has them trying to cement a bid to the NIT. Tonight, they play in the opening game of the conference tournament and will face Oklahoma. TCU is the #8 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, their highest-ever since joining the conference.
These teams first met this season in Fort Worth in the second game of Big 12 play for each team. The Frogs came away with a 60-57 win in that game thanks to a phenomenal performance by Alex Robinson. He finished the game with 18 points on 7/13 shooting and also had six assists. As a team in that game, TCU shot 42.9% from the field and blocked an impressive 13 shots on defense.
Oklahoma was led by their bench in Fort Worth. The bench, led by freshman Kameron McGusty, contributed 35 of the Sooners’ 57 points. McGusty himself was responsible for 11 points and was a menace on defense with four steals. Oklahoma could not find easy looks on offense and only shot 37.1% from the field. They also struggled from the free throw line, where they went 6/11.
These two teams also met in Norman in the regular season finale this past Saturday and the Sooners prevailed 73-68. Kenrich Williams put on a fantastic effort for the Frogs in that game, finishing with his 13th double-double of the season. Kenny Hustle pulled down 13 rebounds and also poured in 17 points on 7/10 shooting. Vladimir Brodziansky was also a key contributor, scoring 17 points on 7/14 shooting. Vlad was much more effective in the second game between these teams, considering he was limited to four points in the first matchup.
When these teams met in Norman, Oklahoma was able to come away with the win by playing a very well-rounded game. The Sooners shot 44.1% from the field and went 17/22 from the line, and were especially good at the line in order to ice the game. They also outrebounded TCU and only turned the ball over seven times, but the Frogs did do a very good job converting those into points. McGusty once again led the Sooners by dropping in 22 points. Kristian Doolittle finished with a double-double, adding in 19 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Khadeem Lattin also did damage in the post for Oklahoma, grabbing 10 boards and blocking five shots.
The Sooners have played very well to close out the regular season. In their last six games, Oklahoma has gone 3-3 and has looked very good. Their wins all came at home and include the victory over TCU as well as a 30-point blowout over Kansas State. Their three losses all came on the road and were against some very good teams. They had to travel to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Kansas, and only lost those games by an average of 6.7 points.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Shutting Down McGusty
Kameron McGusty has been on an absolute tear for the Sooners in the second half of the season. He started the season on the bench, which is why he is only averaging 10.9 points per game. However, in his final 18 games of the season, he has scored in double-digits 17 times and has broken 20 points four times. The only time he didn’t score in double-digits was the Sooners’ 81-51 victory over Kansas State. Expect Oklahoma to try and run their offense through him in order to get him going.
2 - Who Steps Up on Offense?
During this seven-game skid, TCU hasn’t been getting blown out by opponents, but they have been hindered by extended droughts late in games that keep the Frogs from staying with other teams. During these droughts, it feels like TCU can’t find any baskets. The Frogs will need someone to step up during these stretches and attack the basket. The most likely candidate is Robinson, who has shown a great ability to finish at the rim. However, if no one person can get it going, then the team as a whole must move the ball around and be patient instead of settling for poor shots.
3 - Free Throw Shooting
In both matchups this season, there has been a major difference between the two teams at the line. When TCU won the matchup in Fort Worth, they shot 72.2% from the line whereas Oklahoma only shot 54.5%. When the Sooners won this past Saturday, they shot 77.3% from the line while the Frogs only shot 44.4%. Free throw shooting becomes even more crucial in the crazy month of March, so whoever wins the battle at the line will likely be putting themselves in a very good position to win.
The Frogs and Sooners both played very well this past Saturday and although Oklahoma prevailed, I expect TCU to get the revenge win on a neutral court. It’s a pivotal game for the Frogs who are still trying to add wins to their NIT resume. I expect Kenrich and Robinson to take over for the team. I also think we might see a big game from Brandon Parrish off of the bench. The key for TCU will be limiting their droughts while trying to create a couple of extended runs to pull away.
Score Prediction: TCU 76, Oklahoma 68
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- 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.