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TCU Basketball Preview: Oklahoma

Can TCU get the best of Trae Young and the Sooners in their second matchup?

TCU Basketball vs Oklahoma Sooners
Can A Rob be the difference in round two against the Sooners?
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 12:00 PM CST | Location: Lloyd Noble Center – Norman, OK | TV: ESPNU | Series: Oklahoma leads 20-4 | Game Line: N/A

The #16 TCU Horned Frogs (13-3) look to bounce back off a tough double overtime loss, as they travel to Norman to face the #9 Oklahoma Sooners (13-2). The Frogs are coming off yet another heartbreaking Big 12 finish, falling to Texas by a final score of 99-98 after two extra periods. The Frogs rallied from a ten point halftime deficit and held four point leads in both overtimes, but a Jaylen Fisher layup rattled out at the buzzer to send the Frogs to 1-3 in conference play. Kenrich Williams starred for TCU, dropping in 26 points on 7/11 shooting from three, while Vladimir Brodziansky scored 19. The point guards Jaylen Fisher and Alex Robinson also ended up in double figures (12 and 14 respectively), and racked up good assist numbers as well (6 and 9). The issue for the Frogs was once again on the defensive end; every Longhorn scored at least 8 points, and the interior defense remained a huge problem as UT shot 25/33 from 2. TCU is 1-3 with a total score of 352-355 so far in conference, proving that every game is going to be a grind, and that the Frogs will have to learn to finish in close games.

The Sooners are coming off an impressive 75-65 win over Texas Tech. Trae Young once again led the way with 27 points and 9 assists. Christian James (15) and Khadeem Lattin (11) also ended up in double figures, as the Sooners used a big second half surge to put away a very pesky Tech team. Since the Sooners handed TCU their first loss of the season on December 30, they have gone 2-1. The wins were the aforementioned Tech win and demolition of Oklahoma State, while they lost on the road against West Virginia, who is currently ranked #2 in the country. The Sooners sport the 4th ranked offense in the league as well as the 4th ranked defense, and they’ve knocked down threes at the top rate in Big 12 play (43.3%). I will avoid breaking down every player again, as not much has changed in the three games since we last covered OU (check out that preview here).

The 90-89 Sooners win in Fort Worth was spurred first and foremost by Trae Young, who dropped 39 points and 14 assists and saw his national profile grow even larger as a result. Young is an incredible talent, as he drained deep threes with ease, but I actually didn’t think TCU did a terrible job on him in terms of shooting. Young ended up going 9/23 from the field (39% shooting), but what killed TCU was that they fouled him way too much and gave him freebies at the line. Young shot 15-18 from the line and is an 85% shooter from the line on the season, so that stat will obviously kill a TCU team that is already struggling to stop teams shooting regular shots. Kameron McGusty also killed the Frogs off the bench, dropping 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting. It was a season best for McGusty, and he has generally stepped up his play in a big way since Big 12 play started. The OU game was a template of how the entire Big 12 slate has gone for the Frogs thus far: a high scoring matchup that goes down to the final few possessions, and a game in which TCU either gets in a big hole or cannot play with a lead.

Three Things to Look For

Keep Young Under Control

The title of this could read: do the same thing you did last time, just quit sending him to the line (side note: Parker wrote a nice article detailing some other keys to the game here. I’ll try to avoid being repetitive - it’s a very solid writeup of the Sooners). The move last game to stick Desmond Bane on Young was very successful in getting him uncomfortable and out of rhythm. Sure, he would still knock down a three or get a layup every now and then; the kid is a great player and will get his. But 30 points on 30 shots is much preferable to 30 points on 15 shots. The second key to this is hurting his ability to distribute. Young is really good at finding open shooters when the defense collapses on his drives, so the Frogs will need to be disciplined and stick to their rotations.

Paging Alex Robinson

I love A Rob; I raved about him in our preseason previews and still believe he will end up in the upper echelon of distributors to play for TCU. But while the assists are still rolling out from him, Alex has struggled quite a bit to score. It was a problem in non-conference play, but it has become really serious in Big 12 play, where he didn’t score in double figures until the UT game and is averaging 5.3 points per game on 29.6/36.4/25 splits. His lack of scoring suffocates the offense even when he is passing as well as ever, and with Jaylen Fisher continually finding himself in foul trouble the Frogs will rely on Robinson as their point guard depth is very thin. Alex didn’t have a great game against OU in the first matchup (5 points on 2/7 shooting and 7 assists), but he did spark the offense with his presence. If he can up his scoring to even just below last year’s levels, it will be a great aid in the Frogs winning the game.

Keep It In Perspective

If the Frogs drop this game, they will fall to 1-4 in Big 12 play, a very disappointing start after entering the conference slate unbeaten. However, this game remains very winnable, and 1-3 doesn’t tell the whole story as to how close TCU is to the cusp of a great team. This was a tough part of the schedule, everybody knew that coming in, and now it lightens up about as much as a Big 12 schedule can. If TCU wins, that’ll be great and a big confidence booster for the guys, but I think it’s essential that players and fans alike keep this season in perspective and know that these guys still have a big push in them.

Prediction:

For the first time this season, I’m going to have the Frogs losing in my prediction. Maybe it’ll work as jinx against the Sooners, but I feel like this is just the kind of game TCU is going to drop until they fix some issues. Teams like OU will typically win their home games, and TCU is coming off a deflating 2OT loss. Road games are tough, see the OT win over a lesser Baylor squad, and like I said in point 3, there’s no shame in losing on the road to a top 10 team. I think TCU has the potential to pull this out, but ultimately fall a bit short in Norman.

Prediction: #9 Oklahoma 90, #16 TCU 86

Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

- TCU is second in the Big 12 and 10th in the NCAA with 87.6 points per game. Oklahoma is first in the Big 12 and second in the nation with 93.1 points per game.

- The game is a rematch of the meeting two weeks ago when No. 12 Oklahoma defeated No. 10 TCU 90-89 in Fort Worth.

- TCU will play OU for the second time before playing Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and West Virginia once. TCU played at OU in its regular season finale last season.

- TCU’s three losses this season are by a combined six points to No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 10 Kansas and Texas.

- TCU is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the seventh consecutive week. The Frogs are ranked No. 16 by the AP and USA Today.

- TCU was ranked as high as No. 10 in the AP Top 25, which was its highest ranking in school history.

- TCU is 45-19 all-time as a ranked team, including a 22-4 record at home and 18-8 on the road.

- TCU’s 13-2 start to the season was the best in school history since a 13-2 record during the 1933-34 season.

- TCU leads the Big 12 Conference with 19.9 assists per game.

- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assists (4th, 19.9), assist turnover ratio (9th, 1.58), field goal percentage (16th, 50.3), rebounding margin (25th, +7.4), scoring (10th, 87.6) and 3-point percentage (9th, 41.4).

- TCU ranks fifth in offensive efficiency, the best in the Big 12, according to KenPom.com.

- TCU has not had more than 12 turnovers over the last seven games, an average of 10.3 per game.

- Kenrich Williams has recorded seven double-doubles and leads the team with 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.

- Williams is one of five players averaging double-figures. There are six TCU players averaging 8.9 points or more.

- Williams has scored in double figures in each of his last 12 games, a game-high 26 at Texas Wednesday.

- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks fourth all-time at TCU in career blocks (141) and 22nd in career points (1,099).

- TCU was picked to finish third in the Big 12 after finishing tied for seventh last season. Both were program bests.

- TCU returned its top six scorers from last season’s team that went 24-15, finished tied for seventh in the Big 12 and won the NIT, including all five starters. It’s the first time Jamie Dixon has had a team with every starter returning from the year before.

- TCU returned 79 percent of its scoring and 79 percent of its rebounding from last season.

- One season after winning its first postseason tournament, TCU will try to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Since 1985, 58 percent of the teams that won the NIT made the NCAA Tournament the following season.

About the Opponent

- Oklahoma boasts the nations second-best offense with an average 93.1 points per game.

- The Sooners are coming off a 75-65 win over No. 8/8 Texas Tech Tuesday after dropping their first Big 12 game at No. 6/5 West Virginia, 89-76 on Saturday.

- Freshman Trae Young leads the nation with 29.2 points and 10.2 assists per game.

About the Series

- Oklahoma leads the all-time series 20-4 with a 9-0 advantage in Norman.

- In the first meeting this season in Fort Worth, the Sooners overcame a 13-point deficit to hand the Frogs their first loss in 17 games, which was at the time, the longest streak in the nation. Trae Young had 39 points and 14 assists.

- OU won last season’s game in Norman, 73-68, on March 4.

Dixon Over Oklahoma

TCU’s first win over Oklahoma in the all-time series came during the 1986-87 season, Jamie Dixon’s senior season. The Horned Frogs defeated No. 6 Oklahoma 95-82 on Dec. 27, 1986 to win the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City. The day prior, TCU defeated Oklahoma State 92-61. Dixon had 12 points and seven assists against OSU and 28 points and six assists against OU and was named the tournament MVP.

Top 25 Ranking

TCU is ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll for the seventh-straight week at No. 16. The Frogs debuted in this season’s rankings at No. 23 on Nov. 27. TCU’s highest ranking this season was No. 10, the highest in school history.

- As a ranked team, TCU is 44-18 all-time, including 22-4 at home.

- TCU has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for seven consecutive weeks. The school record for consecutive weeks in the poll is 10, which occurred from the 1986-87 season to beginning of the 1987-88 season.

- Prior to this season, TCU was last ranked on Dec. 22, 2014, coming in at No. 25 after sporting an 11-0 record at the time.

- When No. 20 TCU faced No. 22 Nevada in Los Angeles, it was the first time TCU faced a ranked team, while also ranked since March 6, 1998 when No. 20 New Mexico defeated No. 15 TCU 80-73 in the second round of the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.

- TCU is one of six NCAA DI schools ranked in the Top 25 in football and men’s basketball joining Auburn, Clemson, Miami, Michigan State, Oklahoma.

Kenrich From Three

Kenrich Williams was 7-of-11 from 3-point range during his 27-point outpouring at Texas on Jan. 10. It was the most 3-pointers in a game by a TCU player since Hank Thorns hit eight threes against UNLV on Feb. 14, 2012. Williams’ 3-point production and accuracy has increased since his first year at TCU. He’s made at least one three in each of his last 14 games.

Sophomore (2014-15) > 11-31 (35.5)

Junior (2016-17) > 45-124 (36.3)

Senior (2017-18) > 29-60 (48.3)

Shooting and Scoring

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 16th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.3%).

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 9th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (40.4%).

- Over 60 percent of TCU’s field goals (499) were assisted (318), a percentage of 63.7. The Frogs rank first in the Big 12 and fourth in the NCAA in assists per game (19.9).

- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks fifth at 119.7 according to KenPom.com.

- TCU has three among the top 15 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 8. Vladimir Brodziansky - 59.6, 9. Kouat Noi - 57.6. 11. Desmond Bane - 54.0

- TCU has four among the top six in 3-point field goal percentage in the Big 12... 1. Desmond Bane - 49.3, 2. Kenrich Williams - 48.3, 4. Kouat Noi - 47.7, 6. Jaylen Fisher - 43.9

- TCU has scored over 90 points six times this season. It’s the most times the Frogs have scored 90 or more in a season since the 2001-02 season when they did it 13 times.

Second Half Vlad

Senior Vladimir Brodziansky has excelled in the second half of TCU’s most recent games. In TCU’s Big 12 games, Brodziansky has averaged 3.25 points in the first half and 14 points in the second half and overtime. Those games and points include Oklahoma: 4-8, Baylor: 5-13, Kansas 4-16, Texas 0-19.

Vlad 1K

Senior Vladimir Brodziansky is the 34th member of the 1,000 point club. At 1,080 points, the Slovakian is 27th on the all-time scoring list. He is one point from Jeff Jacobs for 26th (1,081).

Strong Schedule

TCU’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 19 by the NCAA through games completed on Jan. 10.

Offensive Rebounding

TCU has averaged 15.2 offensive rebounds per game over the last six games. The Frogs had 19 against Kansas, 20 against Oklahoma and 25 against Texas Southern. In TCU’s 91-72 win over Texas Southern, its 25 offensive rebounds were the most rebounds by the Horned Frogs since Jan. 28, 2015 when they had 26 against Kansas State.