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TCU Basketball Preview: Iowa State

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The Frogs face the Cyclones looking to snap a three game losing streak

TCU Basketball vs Oklahoma Sooners
TCU Basketball vs Oklahoma Sooners
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Iowa State leads 11-6 | Game Line: TCU -11

The #24 TCU Horned Frogs (13-4) return to Fort Worth, looking to regain their momentum with a win over the Iowa State Cyclones (10-6). The Frogs should be bolstered by a student section returning from winter break, the first game they will have played with a full student body behind them since December 5 against SMU. They have lost their last their last three games by a total of 10 points, with the most recent defeat being a 102-97 overtime loss in Norman to Oklahoma. Trae Young once again killed the Frogs, dropping 43 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Jaylen Fisher (22) and Vladimir Brodziansky (21) both broke 20 points scoring, while Kenrich Williams, Kouat Noi, and Desmond Bane dropped 12 apiece. The Sooners were a read hot 19/33 from behind the line, as yet again the Frogs defense got shredded.

Iowa State is coming off their first Big 12 victory, a 75-65 win over Baylor. Star freshman Lindell Wigginton led the way again, scoring 30 points and having an all around excellent game on both ends. DFW product Nick Weiler-Babb had a double double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Solomon Young also had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Cameron Lard also contributed 11 points. Iowa State has a similar in-conference resume as TCU, sporting the aforementioned win over Baylor, a blowout loss against Kansas State, and close losses to Texas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas (UT and OSU in OT). They were 9-2 in the non-con slate, losing their first two games in embarrassing fashion to Missouri and Milwaukee before garnering nice wins over Boise State and Iowa. Steve Prohm’s team hasn’t quite reloaded the way Iowa State teams usually do, but they have a good number of young pieces that can (in classic Big 12 fashion) give you problems and keep games close.

Wigginton is the star of the show for Iowa State, leading them in scoring and three point shooting. The true freshman Canadien plays off the ball despite his size (6’3), and has suffered through the typical inconsistencies you would expect out of a freshman. However, when he’s on he’s on, scorching Baylor for 30, Kansas for 27, and Kansas State for 23. Especially considering the Frogs’ inability to defend the three ball, Wigginton needs to be the primary focus of the Frogs D. This focus cannot distract from second leading scorer Donovan Jackson. Jackson’s elite free throw shooting (9th in the nation at 93%) combines with a solid three point shooting to land him on the national ranking for true shooting % (56.9%). He’s struggled a bit inside, and doesn’t pass as well as you would want out of your off guard, but considering how hot he can get from three, he is priority 1B for the Frogs. Nick Weiler-Babb facilitates the offense out of the point guard spot, leading the team in assists by a wide margin. The Arkansas transfer is a triple double threat, leading the team in rebounds per game, and he’s no slouch scoring either. Weiler-Babb is a below average 3 point shooter, dragging down his overall shooting numbers as he shoots 3 a game at 32%, but he’s a do it all player who will do the little things for the team to win. Solomon Young grabs the starting spot at the 4, and his most notable skill is his ability to get to the line. He won’t dominate the offensive flow, but Iowa State’s offense does much better when he is in. In conference play his offensive rating is 127.8, 4th overall in the conference. The final starting spot has recently been taken over by redshirt freshman Cameron Lard. He does the things you want out of your center, leading the team in rebounding rate, blocks, and two point shooting. He’s been a consistent double figure scorer since December. He is nationally ranked in offensive rebound rate (14.6%, 31st) and blocks (10.6%, 27th).

Iowa State doesn’t get a ton out of their bench, ranking around 300th in bench minutes. Jeff Beverly was the starter for much of the season before being replaced by Lard, and he has gotten a total of 16 minutes over the last three games. Prior to his benching, the UTSA transfer was having a rough go of it, mostly due to his excessive three point shooting. His numbers across the board are pretty dreadful, so it’s no surprise Prohm has seated him on the bench. Hans Brase, a Princeton grad transfer, has emerged as the heaviest hitter off the bench. Brase hits the boards well, and scored efficiently in the Ivy League, but it’s been a tough stretch in 2017-18 for him putting the ball in the whole. He’ll be the primary big backup for the game, so expect to see #30 out there no matter how much his shot is struggling. Zoran Talley, an Old Dominion transfer, and Jakolby Long are two players that Coach Prohm singled out that could sub in early Wednesday, despite erratic minutes for the both of them. They both had a string of DNPs in December, with Talley struggling shooting and Long averaging the fewest points per game of anyone on the team. Long has only played 18 career games, but Talley was a solid scorer last year in Norfolk. The final notable sub is true freshman Terrence Lewis. Lewis has a lot of talent and there is a raw talent there for scoring the ball, but his numbers have been pretty bad this year. His poor performance is reflected in his minutes reduction since conference play started.

Iowa State sports a pretty solid offense at 109.0 oRTG (92nd in the nation), though their conference ranking is 9th (103.0). Their eFG% and 2 point % also rank 9th in conference, though they rank as pretty middle of the road by other offensive metrics. Defensively they are middle of the road in the conference, with a 109.4 dRTG ranking 5th. They’re especially solid at crashing the defensive glass, however they have been susceptible to giving up threes. They’re giving up threes at a 37.9% clip, and no teams give up more of their points due to the three ball. As is typical, the Cyclones have very little continuity from last season (328th in the country), which means they may be the kind of team that gets stronger as the year goes along. While Iowa State is generally considered the worst or second worst team in the conference, TCU cannot afford to look over any games considering the hole they have put themselves in thus far.

Three Things To Look For

Play Some Semblance of Defense

Iowa State has some guys who can bomb threes in Wigginton and Jackson, and considering that TCU ranks last in the Big 12 at guarding the three, that could spell big trouble for the Frogs. I’m honestly planning on just keeping this as the first key for every single game, as TCU’s defense has simply been atrocious since conference play began. The inability to get stops, especially at key moments, has been absolutely killer in these close games. Just get 3 or 4 more stops every game, and suddenly you’re looking at a TCU team that is in the top 10. Until the defensive adjustments occur, this team will be stuck in the rut of close losses they’ve been in.

Switching It Up

Last game was the first time that a fully healthy TCU squad switched up its starting lineup, with Kouat Noi and Alex Robinson getting starts with Desmond Bane and JD Miller headed to the bench. Noi and Bane responded with good games, while Robinson and Miller were two of the worst performers on the floor for the Frogs. Jamie Dixon is clearly trying to get Miller and Robinson going. Miller has struggled since conference play began after a very solid non-conference standard of play, while A Rob hasn’t been himself all year. I wouldn’t advise switching things just for the sake of switching them, but if two of the players in an 8 man rotation are slumping hard, it puts a real drag on everything. I believe in Coach Dixon to find a solution, but it’s been a rough ride for those two in recent weeks.

Ride the Crowd

As I mentioned above, TCU hasn’t played a home game with school in session since the SMU game. It’s syllabus week for TCU students, which means there’s no excuse for Schollmaier to not be packed on Wednesday night. The team needs a good pick-me-up on this losing streak, and there’s nary a cure in the world like playing in front of an electric crowd on your home court. This is still a team with great potential, and I fully expect the guys to come out with great energy that will be compounded by the fan support.

Prediction

This is an absolute must win for the Frogs. Dropping to 1-5 in conference play, no matter how close the losses, puts the team in an even deeper hole than they are currently in. Come Selection Sunday, the committee is going to look at wins and losses and RPI, and the closeness of games can easily fade from their memories. TCU on paper should have every reason to win this game, but they cannot overlook this team based on their current situation. Iowa State doesn’t have the length to contend with TCU’s frontcourt, and Kenny Hustle in particular should feast on an undersized 3. If the Frogs can limit the three ball’s influence and get back on track defensively, they can win this one going away and get in a better defensive mindset for the games to come.

Prediction: #24 TCU 86, Iowa State 80

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

- TCU has been a part of five of the 15 Big 12 Conference games that have been decided by 10 or fewer points.

- TCU’s four losses this season are by a combined 11 points.

- The Frogs are ranked for the eighth consecutive week. They are No. 24 in the AP and No. 25 in the USA Today poll.

- 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 and ranks second in the NCAA with 19.9 assists per game.

- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assist turnover ratio (8th, 1.58), field goal percentage (13th, 50.2), rebounding margin (31st, +6.2), scoring (8th, 88.2) and 3-point percentage (16th, 41.0).

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

- TCU has not had more than 13 turnovers over the last eight games, an average of 10.6 per game.

- Kenrich Williams has recorded seven double-doubles and leads the team with 15.1 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.

- Williams is one of five players averaging double-figures. There are six TCU players averaging 9.1 points or more.

- Williams has scored in double figures in each of his last 13 games. He is 54 points away from 1,000 for his career.

- Williams ranks ninth all-time at TCU in career rebounds (728) and tied for seventh in career steals (125).

- Jaylen Fisher (5th - 5.4), Alex Robinson (7th - 4.9) and Kenrich Williams (9th - 3.9) are all top 10 in the Big 12 in assists.

- Fisher is 11-of-20 from 3-point range in the last four games. He tied a career high with four 3-pointers at Oklahoma.

- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks fourth all-time at TCU in career blocks (144) and 20th in career points (1,120).

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

About the Opponent

- Iowa State is coming off its first conference win of the season, 75-65 over Baylor on Saturday.

- The Cyclones are led by freshman guard Lindell Wigginton, who is the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after scoring 27 points at Kansas and a career-high 30 points against Baylor. Wigginton averages a team-best 16.5 points per game.

- Junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb leads the Cyclones with 7.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game.

About the Series

- Iowa State leads the all-time series 11-6.

- TCU won last season’s meeting in Fort Worth, 84-77 on Jan. 14. It was TCU’s first win over Iowa State in 20 years.

- In each of last season’s three games. The winning team scored 84 points.

Overtime

- TCU has played four overtime periods over its last four games.

- TCU has played back-to-back overtime games for the eighth time in school history and the first time since the 2001-02 season. An 82-71 loss at Houston on Jan. 15 and an 87-85 loss to Tulane on Jan. 19.

- TCU has never played three consecutive overtime games.

Top 25 Ranking

TCU is ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll for the eighth-straight week at No. 24. 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 44-19 all-time, including 22-4 at home.

- TCU has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for eighth 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.

20-Point Scorers

Six different TCU players have scored at least 20 points in a game, which ties with seven other teams for the most in the country. Those players and the number of 20 point games they’ve had are: Brodziansky - 4, Fisher - 4, Williams - 4, Bane - 1, Miller - 1, Robinson - 1.

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 until an 0-for-4 outing at Oklahoma.

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

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

Senior (2017-18) > 29-64 (45.3)

Shooting and Scoring

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 13th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.2%).

- TCU ranks third in the Big 12 and 16th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.0%).

- Over 60 percent of TCU’s field goals (537) were assisted (338), a percentage of 62.9. The Frogs rank first in the Big 12 and second 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... 6. Vladimir Brodziansky - 59.9, 9. Desmond Bane - 55.3, 10. Kouat Noi - 55.2.

- TCU has four among the top six in 3-point field goal percentage in the Big 12... 1. Desmond Bane - 50.0, 3. Kouat Noi - 46.0, 4. Kenrich Williams - 53.3, 6. Jaylen Fisher - 43.9

- TCU has scored over 90 points seven 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.

700 Rebound Club

Kenrich Williams is one of 10 players in TCU history with 700 career rebounds. The senior is in 10th on the all-time list with 728 boards. He is the first person since 1998 to join the 700-club.

1,000-Point Club

Senior Vladimir Brodziansky is the 34th member of the 1,000 point club. At 1,120 points, the Slovakian is 20th on the all-time scoring list. Senior Kenrich Williams is 54 points from 1,000 for his career. Williams could become the eighth player in TCU history with 1,000 points and 700 rebounds. Both are in their third seasons with the Horned Frogs.

Strong Schedule

TCU’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 18 by the NCAA through games completed on Jan. 14.

Offensive Rebounding

TCU has averaged 11.6 offensive rebounds per game, the third-best in the Big 12. 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.

McWilliam Joins Squad

TCU’s practices earned a boost in early January with the arrival of Angus McWilliam. The 6-11, class of 2018 recruit, graduated from Middleton Grange School a semester early and enrolled at TCU for the spring semester. He averaged 27 points, 22 rebounds, four assists and three blocks per game for the school in Christchurch, New Zealand. McWilliam is eligible to practice and play for the Frogs, but will redshirt this semester. He plans to major in combined sciences at TCU.