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TCU Basketball Preview: Texas

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The Frogs need a win here to stay in good position for March

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 1:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Texas leads 108-65 | Game Line: TCU -5.5

The TCU Horned Frogs (16-8) have a big game Saturday afternoon, playing host to the Texas Longhorns (15-9). The Frogs are coming off a loss at Allen Fieldhouse by a score of 71-64. Kouat Noi led the way with 17 points, joined in double figures by Vladimir Brodziansky (15) and Desmond Bane (12). TCU actually had the lead at halftime, however the Jayhawks were able to battle back and ultimately put away a tough fought game. It was a game that encapsulated the Frogs’ season thus far, a close matchup that ultimately adds a tick to the loss column. With 7 conference losses already, the Frogs cannot afford many more missteps moving forward.

The Longhorns are coming off a close home loss to Kansas State, 67-64. The loss came in spite of a great performance by the ever improving Mo Bamba, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Eric Davis was the other Horn in double figures with 13. Texas had a nice game on the offensive glass with 16 offensive boards, but they ultimately couldn’t overcome their 16 turnovers. Since their matchup with TCU in Austin on January 10, the Longhorns sport a 4-4 record, and have largely improved as a team. They took Tech to overtime in Lubbock and were one of the few Big 12 teams to win their matchup in the Big 12/SEC challenge (85-72 over Ole Miss). This Longhorns squad is trending upward and already sports a 99-98 double OT win over the Frogs.

In my last preview, I took a look at the player-by-player breakdown of Texas. One major change in the month since has been the aforementioned rise of Mo Bamba. Bamba has been on a tear on both ends of the court over the past month, dropping 24/12/3 (pts/reb/blocks) and 25/15/4 lines in back to back games against Iowa State and Ole Miss. He’s been a major factor in their recent offensive improvement, and it has to be noted how difficult he made things inside for the Frogs in their last matchup. Speaking of that last matchup, Kerwin Roach did not play in that matchup. He was in a bit of a funk for the season through January 10, but two games off really did wonders for him as he has enjoyed a nice stretch recently. TCU fans should also remember Matt Coleman, who diced up the Frogs for 12 assists, and Eric Davis, who had a season high 22 in the last matchup. This is not to mention Dylan Osetkowski, who has hit a bit of a rough patch, but is still enjoying a very nice season overall since transferring in from Tulane.

The Frogs 99-98 double OT loss in Austin stings on the resume as one they’d like to have back, but they were facing an emotional Longhorns squad who had just received news about their teammate Andrew Jones’s cancer diagnosis. Jones has remained a rallying point for the team, but it’s tough going against a team with that amount of raw emotion running through them. Of course, it took the Longhorns out-executing the Frogs in key aspects for them to win. They absolutely dominated inside, shooting 76% on twos compared to the Frogs’ 43% (thanks, Mr. Bamba). Jaylen Fisher missed a layup to win the game at the final buzzer, a microcosm of the Frogs’ inability to close out games. The Frogs lost despite forcing 18 turnovers and shooting 56% from three. They got one of the worst performances of the season from Desmond Bane (3 points on 1/7 shooting), which absolutely cannot happen this game considering they will be down Fish this time.

Before we get into keys to the game and predictions, I want to reiterate how big of a game this is for the Frogs. TCU has fallen to a 10 seed in Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, and they basically need to hold serve at home and win at Iowa State to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. Sure, the Frogs have been one of the unluckiest teams in the nation by KenPom rankings (308th), and they are still #24 by his rankings, but when the committee sits down they ultimately will look at the number in the loss column. Especially after the Vanderbilt loss, this team has little margin for error. It’s going to take a complete team effort, and a complete sweep of my keys to this game, in order for that to happen.

Three Things to Look For

Inside vs. Bamba

As I’ve beaten to death already, it was rough sailing inside for the Frogs last matchup. They really shouldn’t have struggled as much as they did according to the statistics, as UT is 6th in the conference in opponent 2 point FG% and rank first in the conference in % of opponent points attributed to two pointers. Last matchup was a one point margin even with the awful two point shooting, so if they can drop the margin between teams to even close to even they will have a great shot.

Stop the three ball

Texas is not a good three point shooting team. Even in their win in January they only shot 33%, but the problem is the Frogs have made teams look like Steph Curry from behind the line, especially in conference play. If Texas gets hot from deep, TCU loses their biggest advantage in the game. If they can run up a similar advantage in three point shooting to what they had last time, then things will be looking up.

Play the full 40

One pattern I’ve noticed with this team is that they will either a) fall behind by double digits early and have to claw back in, b) go through long droughts (4-5 min+) without a made field goal, or c) both. So while the overall metrics suggest a very efficient offense, the truth is that watching TCU can be incredibly frustrating. The Frogs need to run their sets and make their shots consistently throughout the game, as that takes the pressure off compared to having to make every single shot down the stretch. I know this is a little thing, but it can make a world of difference, especially for a team that is in a bit of a funk like the Frogs

Prediction

TCU needs this game bad, and I think they get it. I know I said this right before they got stomped by Tech, but this is a team that is years better at home than on the road. They lost by 1 on the road in double overtime against a team playing with emotions running high. I think the flipping of home court will help offset the improvements made by the Longhorns over the past month. I’m not naive enough to think this game will be easy, and I have concerns about handling Bamba, but I think the Frogs’ offensive attack will be too much in the end for the Longhorns. A key win here, and perhaps things won’t look so gloomy around the TCU basketball discourse.

Prediction: TCU 75, Texas 71

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

- Saturday’s game is themed “white out” with free shirts being given to the first 500 students.

- The game will feature the best shooting team in the Big 12 vs. one of the best defensive teams.

- TCU leads the Big 12 in shooting from the field (50.0) and 3-point range (41.1). Texas ranks second in 3-point defense (32.2) and third in field goal defense (41.0).

- The Frogs just played six of its last nine games on the road and most recently lost at No. 10 Kansas, 71-64, on Tuesday.

- TCU is 11-3 at home this season. All five Big 12 home games have been sold out.

- TCU has played in seven of the 25 Big 12 games that have been decided by six or fewer points.

- The Frogs were ranked for eight consecutive weeks. They are receiving votes in this week’s AP poll.

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

- TCU leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks second in the NCAA with 19.6 assists per game.

- TCU ranks among the national leaders in assist turnover ratio (11th, 1.52), field goal percentage (15th, 50.0), rebounding margin (19th, +6.9), scoring (15th, 84.9) and 3-point percentage (13th, 41.1).

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

- Kenrich Williams has recorded 10 double-doubles and is averaging 14.3 points and a team-best 9.7 rebounds this season.

- Williams ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding (9.7), seventh in assists (4.0) and 15th in scoring (14.0).

- Williams ranks No. 5 in career rebounding at TCU with 803 boards.

- With a balanced scoring attack, TCU has five players averaging double-figures, six averaging 9.2 points or more.

- Vladimir Brodziansky leads TCU with 15.2 points per game and has scored in double figures in the last 15 games.

- Desmond Bane (48.9) leads the Big 12 in 3-point percentage. Kouat Noi (46.1) ranks fourth.

About the Opponent

- Texas had won its last five home games before falling to Kansas State, 67-64, on Wednesday.

- The Longhorns are 3-4 on the road this season.

- Texas is led in scoring by junior transfer Dylan Osetkowski’s 14.0 points per game.

- Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Mohamed Bamba is averaging a Big 12-best 10.8 rebounds per game to go with 13.2 points.

About the Series

- Texas leads the all-time series 108-65 including a 43-39 advantage in Fort Worth.

- TCU has won the last two meetings at home. The last time TCU won three-straight home games in the series was 1991-1993.

- TCU lost in Austin this season, 99-98 in double overtime. Kenrich Williams recorded 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He was 7-of-11 from 3-point range. TCU trailed by as many as 13 points.

Brodziansky Named Senior CLASS Award Finalist

Vladimir Brodziansky has been named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. He was one of 10 NCAA men’s basketball student-athletes to be named a candidate due to his success both on and off the court.

The finalists were chosen by national media from the list of 30 candidates announced in January. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to submit votes online at the Senior CLASS Award website through March 19. Fan votes will be combined with those of the media and Division I head coaches to determine the winners. The Senior CLASS Award recipient will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Joining Brodziansky as finalists are Shawn Anderson (Navy), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall), Rob Gray (Houston), A.J. Jacobson (North Dakota State), Justin Johnson (Western Kentucky), Yante Maten (Georgia), Luke Morrison (Army) and Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga).

Three Pointers From Everyone

TCU has been one of the best shooting teams in the nation all season. Part of the reason the Frogs are so good is because of the number of weapons from 3-point range. TCU has eight players who have made 10 or more 3-pointers this season.

The Losses

TCU’s first six losses of the season, came by five or fewer points, a total of 19 points and an average of 3.2 points per game. The Frogs’ 83-71 loss to Texas Tech on Feb. 3 was their largest margin of defeat at home under Jamie Dixon.

Brodziansky and Williams Get Historic

Seniors Vladimir Brodziansky and Kenrich Williams both went over 1,000 points for their careers this season. Brodziansky went over 1,000 during the game with Nevada (Dec.8) and Williams entered the club at Oklahoma State (Jan. 30).

- Brodziansky ranks No. 13 on TCU’s all-time scoring list with 1,233 points. Williams ranks No. 32 with 1,025 points.

- Williams is one of five players in TCU history with 800 career rebounds. The senior ranks 5th on the all-time list with 803 boards. The last person to record over 800 rebounds was the TCU’s all-time rebounding leader, Reggie Smith (1988-1992).

Leading Rebounder, Again

Kenrich Williams appears to be on his way to leading TCU in rebounding in a season for the third time in his career. If it holds true, Williams will be the second TCU player to lead his team in rebounding for three seasons. Gary Turner led the Frogs on the boards from 1963-66. Williams averaged 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore (2014-15) and 9.7 boards as a junior (2016-17).

Shooting and Scoring

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 15th in the NCAA in scoring offense (84.9). TCU has not averaged 80 or more points per game in a season since the 2002-03 campaign where it averaged 80.4. Last year’s NIT championship team averaged 69.7 points.

- The Frogs rank first in the Big 12 and second in the NCAA in assists per game (19.6).

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 15th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.0%). TCU has never averaged 50 percent or better in a season.

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 13th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.1%).

- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks sixth at 120.7 according to KenPom.com.

- TCU has three among the top 11 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 7. Vladimir Brodziansky - 57.0, 10. Desmond Bane - 54.2, 11. Kouat Noi - 53.5, . TCU is the only team with three players ranked in the top 15 in shooting percentage in the Big 12.

- Sophomore Desmond Bane (48.9) leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting. Freshman Kouat Noi (46.1) is fourth. The school record for 3-point shooting percentage in a season is 47.7 percent by Henry Salter in 2007-08.

- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks ninth in the Big 12 in free throw shooting (80.4).