Game Time: 7:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Oklahoma State leads 25-5 | Game Line: TCU -7.5
The TCU Horned Frogs (17-9) are back in action Saturday night, playing host to the Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-11). The Frogs are looking to rebound after a deflating 82-66 defeat in Morgantown. Only Vladimir Brodziansky (15) and Kouat Noi (12) ended up in double figures, and it ended up being just one of those nights for the Frogs. The one-two punch of Teddy Allen and James Bolden overwhelmed an understaffed TCU squad. Hopefully Shawn Olden will be healthy for this matchup, as his ability to simply play a few minutes and relieve the starters of their heavy minute load will be key.
Oklahoma State lost their last game as well, an 82-72 home loss to Kansas State. Kendall Smith led the team with 16 points, followed up by Jeffrey Carroll and Cameron McGriff with 13 apiece. The Pokes lost despite dominating the offensive glass, grabbing 16 while only allowing the Wildcats 2 offensive boards. The Pokes have split the four games they’ve played since the matchup with TCU in Stillwater. They have an impressive road wins over Kansas and West Virginia, but also somehow dropped a home matchup against Baylor. They’ve been a very up and down team throughout the season, and it makes them tough to preview game-to-game.
Here’s a link to my write up of the first Oklahoma State matchup. The biggest change since that matchup has been Kendall Smith’s return to the starting lineup, replacing Brandon Averette. Smith has flourished in his starting role, averaging 18.8 points per game over the last four games, and he was one of the key players in taking down Kansas and West Virginia. Averette, meanwhile, has struggled a fair bit off the bench. The good news for Pokes fans is that Averette hasn’t been using a ton of their possessions during his cold streak, so at worst he is simply a non factor. Tavarius Shine will also be in action this game, as he returned against WVU after missing the past four games (including against TCU). He’s a key defensive player for them on the wing, and plays pretty heavy minutes for OSU. He’ll throw up some shots, though he is only 4/14 shooting since he returned from injury. The bellwether player for OSU has been big man Cameron McGriff, as he posted 20/9 games in both the West Virginia and Kansas games. McGriff has switched into the starting lineup in place of Yankuba Sima. With the Frogs’ switch to a starting lineup with Kouat Noi instead of JD Miller, that could be a top matchup to watch.
TCU won the first matchup this season, 79-66 in Stillwater. The Frogs had a huge advantage inside, holding the Mitchell Solomon/Sima frontcourt for OSU to just 8 points, while allowing only 36% two point field goal shooting. They won the battle on the boards 37/26 and shot 52% from two. The interesting thing to look at will be the Smith/McGriff factor, as they had a combined 24 points in bench roles last game. It also seems unlikely for the Frogs to benefit from 1-8 shooting by Carroll inside the three point line. If the Frogs give up 57% three point shooting again, they will be in big trouble. Defensively, the hope is they’ll look more like the first game West Virginia Frogs rather than the second game.
Three Things to Look For
Kouat Noi vs Cameron McGriff
Kouat Noi is a very gifted offensive player, perhaps the best on TCU’s roster. But one area where JD Miller had him bested was on the defensive end, especially guarding against fours. The solution Jamie Dixon has come up with is to throw Kenny Hustle at the four and have Noi stick strictly to the three, but Kenny and Kouat are both about 25 pounds lighter than JD. Regardless, Noi and McGriff are the two big new variables introduced into this matchup, and I feel Noi will need to outplay McGriff to give the Frogs the advantage.
Defense, especially the three
Always a key for this iteration of the Frogs, defense has remained a sore point over the past few games. As I mentioned above, the Pokes shot above 57% from three, and if they decide to jack up a ton of threes it could be bad for the Frogs. As a team, OSU shoots only 33.5% on the season (241st in the nation), but the Frogs have a propensity for making everyone look like Steph Curry. It’s a big ask for this team, but even passable defense will likely win them this game.
Keep up the pressure on offense
The Frogs trot out the top offense in the conference, while the Pokes own the last place defense (the Frogs rank 9th in this category). That should be a recipe for success, and it played out that way in Stillwater. With the crowd in Schollmaier behind them, the Frogs need to pour it on OSU. It may not help too much with the committee, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a blowout home win on the resume. This is a different team at home, and I think they can ramp up the offensive firepower in a key matchup with March implications.
I feel pretty good about this game for the Frogs, though the relative unpredictability of Oklahoma State does scary me a tad. Players like Vlad have really stepped up in recent weeks, and the long break since the West Virginia game will hopefully have the team fresh and healthy. The win in Stillwater was among the easiest in conference play for the Frogs, and I don’t see why it can’t be the same in Fort Worth.
Prediction: TCU 85, Oklahoma State 76
Here are the game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- A win over the Cowboys would be TCU’s third-ever sweep of a Big 12 team, along with Texas Tech in 2015 and Texas in 2017.
- TCU is 12-3 at home this season, 3-3 at home in the Big 12.
- Five of TCU’s six Big 12 home games have been announced as sell outs.
- The Frogs are coming off an 82-66 loss at No. 10 West Virginia Monday.
- TCU has played in seven of the 30 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 and USA Today poll.
- TCU was ranked as high as No. 20 in the AP Top 25 on Dec. 25, which was its highest ranking in school history.
- TCU leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks among the national leaders in assists per game (2nd, 19.5), assist turnover ratio (10th, 1.6), field goal percentage (13th, 50.0) and 3-point percentage (12th, 41.3).
- TCU also ranks among the national leaders in rebounding margin (20th, +6.5) and scoring (17th, 84.2).
- 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 13.5 points and a team-best 9.4 rebounds this season.
- Williams is the only player in the Big 12 in the top 17 in rebounding (2nd, 9.4), assists (7th, 4.2) and scoring (17th, 13.5).
- Williams ranks No. 5 in career rebounding at TCU with 816 boards.
- With a balanced scoring attack, TCU has five players averaging double-figures, six averaging 8.8 points or more.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks No. 9 in the Big 12 in scoring (15.6) and has scored in double figures in the last 17 games.
- Brodziansky is a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award and the Senior CLASS Award.
- Desmond Bane leads the Big 12 and ranks seventh in the NCAA in 3-point percentage at 50.5.
- Bane ranks in the top 15 in field goal efficiency (10th, 67.4) and true field goal percentage (15th, 68.2).
- Bane has made 11 of his last 14 3-point attempts over the last five games.
- Kouat Noi ranks second in the Big 12 in 3-point percentage at 46.0.
About the Opponent
- Oklahoma State is 2-2 in its last four games with both losses coming at home and both wins coming on the road.
- The Cowboys are coming off an 82-72 loss to Kansas State Wednesday in Stillwater.
- Jeffrey Carroll leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game to go with 5.9 rebounds per game.
About the Series
- Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 25-5 including a 9-2 record in Fort Worth. TCU has won two of the past three games in Fort Worth.
- TCU won the last meeting, 79-66, on Jan. 30. It was the Frogs’ first win in Stillwater since the 1924-25 season. Kenrich Williams had 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists and helped TCU hold OSU to 41.1 percent shooting from the field.
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 according 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 11 games and ranks second in the Big 12 at 46.0 percent from beyond-the-arc.
Shooting and Scoring
- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 17th in the NCAA in scoring offense (84.2). 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 (19.5).
- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 13th 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 12th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.3%).
- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks fifth at 121.5 according to KenPom.com.
- TCU has three among the top 11 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 5. Vladimir Brodziansky - 57.4, 8. Desmond Bane - 55.2, 14. Kouat Noi - 51.4. TCU and Baylor are the only teams with three players ranked in the top 15 in shooting percentage in the Big 12.
- Sophomore Desmond Bane (50.5) leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting. Freshman Kouat Noi (46.0) is second. 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 (81.3).
- 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. 12 on TCU’s all-time scoring list with 1,273 points. Williams ranks No. 31 with 1,042 points.
- Williams is one of five players in TCU history with 800 career rebounds. The senior ranks 5th on the all-time list with 816 boards. The last person to record over 800 rebounds was the TCU’s all-time rebounding leader, Reggie Smith (1988-1992).