Game Time: 3:00 PM CST | Location: Bramlage Coliseum – Manhattan, KS | TV: ESPNU | Series: Kansas State leads 11-5 | Game Line: Kansas State -2
The #24 TCU Horned Frogs (14-4) finally had a dominant Big 12 performance, and now look to pick up a key road win over the Kansas State Wildcats (13-5). The Frogs beatdown Iowa State by a score of 96-73 despite missing point guard Jaylen Fisher. Vladimir Brodziansky led the game in scoring with 26 points on 11/11 shooting from two. JD Miller dropped 21, and Kenrich Williams had another double double with 11 points and 11 boards. Kouat Noi contributed 16 points off the bench, and Alex Robinson set the school record for assists in a game with 17. TCU pulled away thanks to an incredible offensive effort that saw them shoot well above 50% for the game, assist on 29/38 made field goals, and only turn the ball over 4 times. The great offense masked yet another middling defensive effort for the Frogs, as they allowed over 50% shooting but simply drowned out the Cyclones.
The Wildcats are coming off an impressive win of their own, destroying #4 Oklahoma 87-69. The Kansas State starters were incredible, with Barry Brown (24) and Dean Wade (21) breaking 20 points scoring and Cartier Diarra (16) and Xavier Sneed (13) each putting up double figures. Trae Young finally had a rough game, scoring 20 points on 8/21 shooting and turning the ball over 12 times. The Wildcats shot a very good percentage from the floor and ran OU off the three point line, which, along with their blistering start out the gate, proved too much for the Sooners. K State is sitting at 3-3 in conference play, with wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa State, and losses to West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Kansas (by one point). They didn’t really win any games of note in non-conference play, dropping games against Arizona State and Tulsa. Their best win was a 84-79 win at Vanderbilt, but overall their impressive wins have come within conference play.
The Wildcats’ best player is a close call between point guard Barry Brown and center Dean Wade. Brown is the top scorer for the Wildcats, pouring in 17 points per game on 47% shooting. He’s extremely adept at getting to the line; his big games typically are accompanied by big free throw numbers (see his 38 point/16 FTA performance against Oklahoma State). He hasn’t shot the ball great from distance, but he has the potential to get hot from out there. His assist to turnover ratio isn’t great for a point guard, but he has done a good job picking up the ball handling duties since the injury to Kamau Stokes. Stokes and Jaylen Fisher for the Frogs are both out for the season, so both teams will be missing their top facilitators. Wade should be a familiar name for Frogs fans, as his 20 point performance was key in Kansas State dropping TCU last time the teams met. He’s a stretch big guy who has actually gained efficiency as he has taken on more of the offensive load. His 64.8% eFG ranks 40th in the country, and he can be a matchup nightmare on defense for bigger guys who aren’t used to rotating on the perimeter. He also passes exceptionally well for a big guy, and he’s typically good for a steal or two as well. Wade is a very complete player, and the Frogs would be silly not to key on him.
Xavier Sneed gets the start at the three, and he is yet another well rounded player. He shoots a decent 36% clip from three, and has shown increased consistency in his second season. His best games have come when he gets hot from downtown, so limiting his opportunities from deep will be important. Makol Mawien has been the other player to start all 18 games, manning the power forward spot. He shoots 75% from two, but honestly isn’t a big part of the Wildcats attack, especially since Big 12 play started. He’s a solid athlete, the top shotblocker on the team, but he has a tendency towards foul trouble (he even fouled out in 5 minutes against Iowa State). He’s only averaged 2.5 points per game since Big 12 play started, but as a starter he will obviously be someone to at least keep in the back of your mind. The final starter will likely be Cartier Diarra, a redshirt freshman guard who has replaced Stokes since his injury a few games ago. Diarra is a serious talent, leading the team in 3P% at 49%, and he has definitely capitalized on his increased playing time. He turns it over at a really high rate, not terribly surprising for a ball-dominant first year player, but his 73.2% eFG during conference play is 2nd in the league. His growing confidence as a player will be key not just for this game, but for Kansas State overall as the season progresses. He’s the type of player that can really hurt TCU, and may be my player to watch for the Wildcats. The keying in on Brown and Wade may open up major opportunities for the young guard.
Kansas State’s depth took a hit after the injury to Stokes, but they still have a few key subs they like to throw in the game. The top reserve is likely Amaad Wainright, a low usage JUCO guard who has struggled a bit in his first season in Manhattan. He sees a lot of burn in small ball lineups as a forward despite being 6’2, which has hurt his overall passing numbers. On the flip side, he rebounds exceptionally well for someone his size, which helps mitigate his poor shooting and passing numbers. Graduate transfer Mawdo Sallah has fallen out of the rotation since playing heavy minutes early in the season, receiving 2 DNPs in conference play and averaging only 4 minutes a game when he does play. The Mount St. Mary’s product can rebound and anchor a defense as good as anyone, but the high level of Big 12 play may exacerbate his issues with turnovers and limit his offensive upside. Brian Patrick sees some burn in every game, though his contributions are similar to Shawn Olden’s for TCU in that he has scored very little despite getting playing time. Both he and freshman Levi Stockard will likely see time on Saturday afternoon, but don’t expect anything more than a bucket or two for each of them.
Kansas State offers an incredibly efficient, balanced offense that is tough to stop on a consistent basis. Their raw FG% is first in the Big 12, while their eFG% of 55.8% is good for 32nd in the country (their 56.9% in Big 12 play is 1st). They rank in the top 100 across the board in two point, three point, and free throw shooting. Their only weak point on offense is grabbing the boards off their own misses, as they rank last in the Big 12 in that category. They aid this problem by slowing down the tempo, their 327th ranked pace ensures that the other team won’t get a chance to catch up with their rapid rate of scoring. Defensively, they do enough to get by, and are actually elite at shutting down the other team’s three point shooting. The problem is they get hammered inside, ranking last in the Big 12 in opponent 2 point %. They struggle to crash the glass at a Big 12 level, and allow other team’s to shoot a pretty darn good percentage. As was mentioned above, maximizing possessions is the key ingredient to success under Bruce Weber.
Three Things to Look For
Get K State Uncomfortable
The absolute worst thing you can do against these Wildcats is play their game. TCU has been one of the elite offenses in the country, and that bodes well against any team, but they need to tighten the screws and force K State to play catch up. Disrupting either the tempo or the overall offensive execution of K State can really throw them out of whack, even more than other teams TCU has faced.
Mr. Robinson, Encore Please
I was really impressed with Alex Robinson against Iowa State. One game after I called him out as needing to produce, he shaved his beard and dropped a school record in assists. He did this after hearing that Jaylen is out for the year, putting a huge load on his plate. We don’t need A Rob to break school records every game, but solid performances from Alex will do wonders for this team. Keep it up Alex, it’s great to see you back in 2016-17 form.
Win the Rebounding Battle
TCU has done exceptionally well when they outrebound the opposition. Luckily, the glass has been an area that the Frogs have excelled in, while the Wildcats have been meh at best. Expect another double double for Kenny Hustle, and I think the Frogs definitely win if they can win this category.
Frog fans had to feel relief after the Iowa State game. Coming off that tough three game losing streak (and the news of Jaylen Fisher’s injury), the mood around TCU basketball was pretty dour. That Cyclones game reminded everyone of what this team can be when they’re clicking. I think that momentum carries over into this road game. The Frogs will pump the pace up to a point that K State is uncomfortable with, and ride a rebounding advantage to a decisive road win ahead of their “BIG” Monday showdown with West Virginia.
Prediction: #24 TCU 85, Kansas State 78
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- Alex Robinson dished out a school-record 17 assists against the Cyclones. It was the most ever in a Big 12 game.
- The Frogs had a season-high 29 assists against ISU and four turnovers, the fewest since 1993.
- TCU has not had more than 13 turnovers over the last nine games, an average of 9.9 per game.
- Sophomore Jaylen Fisher (right knee) has been ruled out for the season. He was averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 assists.
- While KSU will be wearing their throwback uniforms from the 1973-82 seasons, TCU will wear its FROGS script uniforms, first worn in 1949-50.
- TCU’s four losses this season are by a combined 11 points. All the losses were against teams with a top 41 RPI.
- 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 46-19 all-time as a ranked team, including a 23-4 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 20.4 assists per game.
- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assist turnover ratio (3rd, 1.68), field goal percentage (10th, 50.8), rebounding margin (32nd, +6.8), scoring (5th, 88.6) and 3-point percentage (11th, 41.4).
- TCU ranks fourth in offensive efficiency, the best in the Big 12, according to KenPom.com.
- 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 9.4 points or more.
- Williams has scored in double figures in each of his last 14 games. He is 43 points away from 1,000 for his career.
- Williams ranks ninth all-time at TCU in career rebounds (739) and tied for seventh in career steals (125).
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks fourth all-time at TCU in career blocks (147) and 20th in career points (1,146).
About the Opponent
- Kansas State is coming off an 87-69 win over No. 4 Oklahoma Tuesday, three days after losing 73-72 at No. 12 Kansas.
- The Wildcats are led by junior Barry Brown’s 17.0 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big 12 Conference.
- Junior forward Dean Wade averages 15.3 points and leads the team with 6.5 rebounds per game.
About the Series
- Kansas State leads the all-time series 11-5.
- TCU won last season’s meeting in Manhattan, 86-80 in overtime. JD Miller led the Frogs with 18 points and Kenrich Williams hit two 3-pointers in overtime on the way to 11 points. Williams also had 10 rebounds for a double-double.
- KSU won the last meeting, 75-74, in Fort Worth on March 1, 2017.
- TCU will wear its white FROGS (script) uniforms on Saturday at Kansas State. The “new” uniforms were worn twice last season, first in a 78-63 win over Texas on Feb. 4 and again in a 61-60 loss to West Virginia on Feb. 25. It will be the first time TCU wears the uniforms on the road.
- The original FROGS script uniforms debuted during the 1949-50 season and were last worn during 1963-64.
Fisher Out for the Season
- Jaylen Fisher suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during practice on Jan. 16, one day prior to TCU’s game with Iowa State. He had successful surgery on Jan. 18 and it is expected to take 3-4 months to recover.
- At the time of his injury, Fisher was fifth in the Big 12 with 5.4 assists. He was third on the team with 12.1 points per game and had just come off a career-high 22 points at No. 9 Oklahoma.
- Injuries are nothing new for the sophomore guard. Fisher tore the meniscus in his left knee on Aug. 3, five days before the team embarked on its foreign tour to Australia. Fisher broke his left wrist during the Frogs’ first NIT game against Fresno State on March 15. TCU won the next four games to win the NIT.
School-Record 17 Assists
- Alex Robinson’s 17 assists against Iowa State on Jan. 17 were a school record. It broke the old record of 16, held by Greedy Daniels (Dec. 9, 2000) and Prince Fowler (Dec. 12, 1998 and Feb. 11, 1999).
- It was the most ever in a Big 12 Conference game. It broke the old record of 15, held by six people. The last person to record 15 was Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State on March 4, 2017 vs. Kansas.
- It was the fourth most ever by player from the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma’s Trae Young set the record with 22 this season against Northwestern.
- It was the third-most by an NCAA Division I player this season.
- Robinson’s previous high was 11, which he last reached against Georgia Tech (3/30/17) last season in the NIT championship game.
TCU had a season-high 29 assists to just four turnovers against Iowa State on Jan. 17. It was the fewest turnovers in a game for the Horned Frogs since four turnovers at Texas Tech on Jan. 30, 1993.
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 - 5, Fisher - 4, Miller - 2, Williams - 4, Bane - 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 15 of his last 17 games.
Sophomore (2014-15) > 11-31 (35.5)
Junior (2016-17) > 45-124 (36.3)
Senior (2017-18) > 30-67 (45.5)
Shooting and Scoring
- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 10th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.8%).
- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 11th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.4%).
- Over 60 percent of TCU’s field goals (575) were assisted (367), a percentage of 63.2. The Frogs rank first in the Big 12 and second in the NCAA in assists per game (20.4).
- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks fourth at 121.9 according to KenPom.com.
- TCU has scored over 90 points eight 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 739 boards. He is the first person since 1998 to join the 700-club. For more on the list, see page nine.
Senior Vladimir Brodziansky is the 34th member of the 1,000 point club. At 1,147 points, the Slovakian is 18th on the all-time scoring list. Senior Kenrich Williams is 43 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. For more on the list, see page nine.
TCU’s strength of schedule is ranked No. 13 by the NCAA through games completed on Jan. 18.