Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: WVU Coliseum – Morgantown, WV | TV: ESPN2 | Series: West Virginia leads 11-1 | Game Line: West Virginia -6
The TCU Horned Frogs (17-8) secured a big win Saturday afternoon, and now have a quick turnaround as they face off against the #19 West Virginia Mountaineers (18-7) on Monday night. The Frogs took care of business at home against UT, never trailing in an 87-71 victory. Vladimir Brodziansky was the star of the game, scoring 25 points and holding his own inside against Mo Bamba. Kouat Noi was hot early and finished with 18, while Desmond Bane (17) and Alex Robinson (11) also got into double figures. After getting destroyed inside in the first matchup, the Frogs actually won the two point field goal percentage statistic (57.1% to 53.1%). They turned the ball over only 6 times and played their most complete game in quite some time.
West Virginia just dropped a home game against Oklahoma State by a score of 88-85. The loss was definitely not Jevon Carter’s fault, as he dropped 33 points on 11/18 shooting. Esa Ahmad also put in 16, and Lamont West had a nice 10 off the bench. The loss was something of an encapsulation of the 5 post-Big Monday games WVU has played. Their record is 2-3, with a major blown lead against Kentucky in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. They were blown out against Iowa State, but then turned around and destroyed Kansas State. It’s fair to say WVU has faltered a bit from their lofty rankings earlier in the season, and they might be the most confusing team in the country. TCU had a big win over them a few weeks ago, but sweeping the Mountaineers is going to take some serious guts on the road.
So what has changed for West Virginia since the last time we saw them? Well, the most notable thing is probably Esa Ahmad’s ascension into the starting lineup. Ahmad was still finding his way against TCU, but he has returned to last season’s form, scoring in double figures in three of his last four games. His starting spot came at the expense of Lamont West, who has still found a way to contribute off the bench. He struggled in his first game as a 6th man against Iowa State, but most Mountaineers did, and he has been fine since. Jevon Carter has remained one of the nation’s premiere players, while James Bolden has replaced Daxter Miles as Carter’s backcourt mate. Bolden was simply too explosive a talent to keep on the bench, and Miles is mired in a bit of a cold spell right now. Sagaba Konate, who got into some antics last game against the Frogs, has been enjoying a very solid stretch of games as well leading into this matchup. Also notable is the reduced playing time of Teddy Allen and Chase Harler. Allen was someone who I wasn’t even sure was going to play last matchup, but he did and wasn’t very effective. Save for the Kansas State game, Allen has largely struggled in the midst of a spat with the coaching staff, and his minutes have shrunk as a result. His starting sp
The Frogs had never beaten WVU before Big Monday, and now they have to do it on the road. For a roadmap on how to win, we need to remember what went right for the Frogs in their marquee 82-73 win. The biggest thing I’m sure Frog fans remember is how the defense played. Holding WVU to 33% from the field is no small feat, and for a Frogs team that has struggled with defensive identity it was nothing short of monumental. While they did have 16 turnovers, that’s not a terrible number against WVU, and they dished out 20 assists to help compensate. Carter had 16 points, but he went 0-6 from three, and he was one of many Mountaineers in foul trouble. The Frogs shot 33 free throws, capitalizing on WVU’s aggressive defense to either get to the line or force the pressure to back off. TCU flashed on defense this Saturday, and if they can follow their WVU game 1 gameplan they can make it two games in a row.
Three Things to Look For
Find the defensive mojo
I talked about this at length above, but this is so important it cannot be overstated. This matchup will come down to the Frogs’ ability to recreate their Big Monday magic and lock down on the defensive end. If Shawn Olden is unable to go again, the lineup has contracted even more since that last game. WVU has much greater depth, so guys like A Rob who play basically all 40 minutes will have to keep the focus all game.
Always a key when facing West Virginia. I feel like A Rob and (formerly) Jaylen Fisher haven’t been given enough credit this season for how much better they are taking care of the basketball. Shockingly, the Frogs’ turnover % actually is the lowest in the Big 12, and they didn’t pick up their first turnover against Texas until the waning seconds of the first half. The WVU pressure will force some turnovers, it’s inevitable, but keeping the number as low as possible needs to be the goal.
The Frogs have a chance to win on the road against a ranked team, something they’ve been unsuccessful at in their two tries thus far. It’s no secret that TCU plays better at home, but they led at Allen Fieldhouse and took Oklahoma to overtime, so it’s not like they are incapable of winning on the road. I fully expect TCU to keep it close no matter what, but they need to prove that they can eventually get one of these games in the W column.
There are two games left on the schedule that the Frogs can drop and not have hurt them too much come Selection Sunday: this one and @Texas Tech. There’s good reason for this, as the Frogs should be major underdogs in this one (-6 as of this writing). It’s really hard to sweep a team as good as WVU, and TCU has only managed to top them once ever. Morgantown is a really tough place to play, and the Mountaineers are coming off a loss. They will have to travel to Kansas after as well, so they need this win badly to avoid a potential three game losing streak. By no means do I think TCU is outclassed in this matchup or cannot win, but I won’t predict them to pull this one out. Another close road loss may hurt the hearts of Frog Nation, but the tournament hopes should still be completely alive.
Prediction: #19 West Virginia 87, TCU 85
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- TCU’s next Big 12 Conference road win will be its third and the most in TCU’s six years as a member of the conference
- Jamie Dixon is 13-9 overall against West Virginia. He was 12-7 against WVU in 13 years as the head coach at Pittsburgh.
- The Frogs are coming off a dominating 87-71 win over Texas Saturday, the largest TCU win in the series since 1987.
- TCU is 2-4 on the road in Big 12 play.
- TCU has not defeated a ranked team on the road since Jan. 19, 1998 at No. 24 Hawaii.
- TCU has played in seven of the 27 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 (10th, 1.6), field goal percentage (14th, 50.2), rebounding margin (17th, +7.1), scoring (13th, 85.0) and 3-point percentage (10th, 41.5).
- TCU ranks fifth in offensive efficiency, the best in the Big 12, according to KenPom.com.
- Kenrich Williams has recorded 10 double-doubles and is averaging 13.7 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds this season.
- Williams is the only player in the Big 15 in the top 15 in rebounding (2nd, 9.6), assists (7th, 4.1) and scoring (14th, 13.7).
- Williams ranks No. 5 in career rebounding at TCU with 810 boards.
- With a balanced scoring attack, TCU has five players averaging double-figures, six averaging 9.0 points or more.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks No. 10 in the Big 12 in scoring (15.6) and has scored in double figures in the last 16 games.
- Desmond Bane leads the Big 12 and ranks ninth in the NCAA in 3-point percentage at 50.0.
- Kouat Noi ranks second in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage at 47.4.
About the Opponent
- West Virginia is 11-3 at home this season including 4-2 in Big 12 games.
- The Mountaineers are led by senior guard Jevon Carter whose 17.2 points per game ranks fourth in the Big 12. Carter scored 33 points in Saturday’s home loss to Oklahoma State.
- WVU is the best in the Big 12 at the free throw line at 76.3 percent.
About the Series
- WVU leads the all-time series 11-1, including a 5-0 advantage in Morgantown.
- TCU won the last meeting, 82-73, on Jan. 22. It was TCU’s first-ever Big Monday game. The Frogs knocked off a top 25 team at home for the first time since 2015 as the Mountaineers were No. 7. Alex Robinson had a team-high 17 points and nine assists.
- TCU’s last game in Morgantown resulted in an 82-70 win by WVU on Jan. 7, 2017.
Brodziansky Named Finalist for Awards
Vladimir Brodziansky has been named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. With each award, he is one of 10 finalists.
The Senior CLASS Award honors senior student-athletes who show great success both on and off the court. 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.
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).
For the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, Brodziansky is up against Mohamed Bamba (Texas), Tyler Davis (Texas A&M), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall), Isaac Haas (Purdue), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan St.), Jock Landale (Saint Mary’s), Brandon McCoy (UNLV) and Thomas Welsh (UCLA).
In March, five finalists will be presented to Mr. Abdul-Jabbar and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee for the 2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.
Have Your Heard of Kouat Noi?
Redshirt freshman Kouat Noi has had his best two games as a Horned Frog last week. The Newcastle, Australia native made four of his first five 3-pointers on his way to scoring 17 points at No. 10 Kansas on Tuesday. He then went 4-of-6 from three to score a career-high 18 points against Texas Saturday. Noi, ranked No. 7 overall in the 2016 Australian Class rankings accoring to AusaHoops.com, spent one season at Montverde Academy Prep in Montverde, Fla., during the 2015-16 season. He has made at least one 3-pointer in each of the last 10 games. and ranks second in the Big 12 at 47.4 percent from beyond-the-arc.
Shooting and Scoring
- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 13th in the NCAA in scoring offense (85.0). 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 (19.8).
- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 14th in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.2%). TCU has never averaged 50 percent or better in a season.
- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 10th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.5%).
- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks fifth at 122.1 according to KenPom.com.
- TCU has three among the top 11 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 7. Vladimir Brodziansky - 57.1, 10. Desmond Bane - 54.7, 11. Kouat Noi - 53.6, . TCU is the only team with three players ranked in the top 15 in shooting percentage in the Big 12.
- Sophomore Desmond Bane (50.0) leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting. Freshman Kouat Noi (47.4) is fourth. The school record for 3-point shooting percentage in a season is 47.7 percent by Henry Salter in 2007-08. Only three players in Big 12 history have shot 50 percent or better in a season, the last being Alan Voskuil of Texas Tech at 50.0 during the 2007-08 season.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks ninth in the Big 12 in free throw shooting (80.7).
- 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.
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 1,258 points. Williams ranks No. 31 with 1,033 points.
- Williams is one of five players in TCU history with 800 career rebounds. The senior ranks 5th on the all-time list with 810 boards. The last person to record over 800 rebounds was the TCU’s all-time rebounding leader, Reggie Smith (1988-1992).