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TCU Basketball Preview: Baylor

The Frogs look to solidify a March Madness bid with another win Saturday

TCU Basketball vs Texas 2.10.18
TCU Basketball vs Texas 2.10.18
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 11:00 AM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Baylor leads 100-82 | Game Line: TCU -4.5

The TCU Horned Frogs (19-9) host the Baylor Bears (17-11) on Saturday, looking to sweep the season series and further cement their place in the field of 68. The Frogs are coming off a key road win over Iowa State by a score of 89-83. Desmond Bane went off, scoring a career high 27 points on 10/15 shooting. Alex Robinson (18), Kouat Noi (17), and Vladimir Brodziansky (14) all also had solid nights, fending off an Iowa State team that is elite at home. Donovan Jackson had a big game for the Cyclones, and the Frogs were in a battle until the end, but it has to be satisfying for Coach Dixon’s squad to have a winning streak for the first time in Big 12 play. The Frogs are really close to wrapping up their March Madness bid, but they need to keep the focus for the final three games of the regular season.

Baylor dropped their most recent game against West Virginia 71-60, snapping a 5 game winning streak. Jo Lual-Acuil had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Manu Lecomte dropped 12. Baylor’s offense went cold, and their stellar defense couldn’t slow down the Mountaineers attack enough to pull out a sixth straight win. Regardless of their recent loss, Baylor is one of the hottest teams in the country. They demolished Kansas and pulled out a close win over Texas Tech when they were on a seven game win streak of their own. This recent hot streak has put them back on track to make the tourney, and has furthered the Big 12 cannibalization that put Kansas in the driver’s seat for another conference title.

It’s been awhile since the Frogs faced off with Baylor, January 2 to be exact, and the Bears have gone 7-7. This record includes a 2-6 stretch directly after the TCU game and the aforementioned winning streak. Plenty has changed since that last game. For starters, Jake Lindsey replaced King McClure in the starting lineup for the Oklahoma game at the end of January. Lindsey hasn’t set the world on fire, but the Bears are 5-2 with him starting, while McClure has struggled a fair bit over the past month. Mark Vital also replaced Nuni Omot, this change coming earlier (about a week after the TCU game). Neither one has been great, leaving an offensive hole in the three position. The bench is definitely anchored by Terry Maston, who Frogs fans certainly remember as he and Lual-Acuil were the players who had big games on the 2nd. Speaking of Lual-Acuil, his season best game is still the TCU game, but he and Lecomte are definitely the engines that make Baylor run.

Looking back at that January 2 matchup, TCU won an overtime matchup in Waco 81-78. Lual-Acuil and Maston tore up the Frogs, putting up 28/11 and 20/9 lines respectively. Vlad was up to the task on offense, scoring 18 points of his own, and the Frogs did a great job on Lecomte, who only had 8 points on 1/11 shooting. The Bears couldn’t buy a three, shooting 1/12, and were only able to stay in the game thanks to great offensive rebounding (19 oReb). These seem like foreign concepts for a Frog squad that is last in the Big 12 in three point % allowed, and is 2nd in the conference at grabbing defensive rebounds. Even if the Frogs get the same result this game, it could very easily come a different way.

Three Things to Look For

Second Chance Points

A way to understand how Baylor could abuse TCU on the offensive glass is to look at their oReb% in conference, which is first at 36.4%. They are the #11 team in the country overall, so perhaps it’s unfair to criticize the Frogs for struggle to contain them. However, with how generally bad Baylor’s offense is, limiting their second chance opportunities can be a death knell for them. It would also be helpful for limiting Lual-Acuil, who makes his money as a great rebounder.

Advantage on the Wings

Kouat Noi’s entrance into the starting lineup presents a huge scoring advantage at the three for the Frogs. Desmond Bane is also riding high off a career game, and is a better offensive player than Jake Lindsey. The Frogs need to run up the margins in these matchups, and have A Rob and Vlad play Lecomte and Lual-Acuil to a draw. I also have more faith in JD Miller and Ahmed Hamdy off the bench for TCU than I do in any Bears reserves, so a decisive win on the wings could be key to winning.

Eyes on the Prize

It’s undoubtedly a huge game for the Frogs. They have a chance to sweep Baylor for the first time since 1989, and to gain their first win over the Bears in Fort Worth since 2001. A win nearly solidifies their spot in the tournament, and the atmosphere will be rocking for the rivalry game (TCU will be wearing black and Fort Dixon will be blacked out). All of these milestones are impressive and exciting, but the Frogs need to just win the game. Laser focus in the final three games will set up the Frogs well for postseason play, so they need to extend this late season winning streak to three.

Prediction

The Frogs are in a great position to gain momentum entering March. Baylor may be one of the hottest teams in the country, but the Frogs are playing inspired basketball right now and are finally playing well together over the past five games or so. The game will likely be tight, Baylor is a tournament level team and the Revivalry can now be extended to hoops. I still think the Frogs pull it out, they have clear advantages at three of the five starting positions and the superior talent off the pine. They’ll also have homecourt and a crowd desperate for a win over their hated rival. TCU takes this one, and Frog fans will have a great deal to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Prediction: TCU 78, Baylor 70

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

- TCU will wear its anthracite uniforms for the first time this season to support the “black out” happening at Schollmaier Arena.

- A win over the Bears would be TCU’s third sweep of a Big 12 team this season (Iowa State, Oklahoma State).

- TCU’s seven conference wins are the most in its seven seasons in the Big 12 and the most since 2011-12 (C-USA).

- TCU last had eight conference wins during the 2004-05 season when it went 8-8 in Conference USA.

- The Frogs are coming off a 89-83 win over Iowa State Wednesday, their first win in Ames in 35 years.

- Against the Cyclones, Desmond Bane scored a career-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

- Vladimir Brodziansky, Clayton Crawford, Dalton Dry, Ahmed Hamdy and Austin Sottile were named Academic All-Big 12.

- TCU leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks among the national leaders in assists per game (2nd, 19.4), assist turnover ratio (11th, 1.5), field goal percentage (9th, 50.4) and 3-point percentage (10th, 41.3).

- TCU also ranks among the national leaders in rebounding margin (21st, +6.4) and scoring (12th, 84.6).

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

- Kenrich Williams has recorded 10 double-doubles and is averaging 13.2 points and a team-best 9.3 rebounds this season.

- Williams is the only player in the Big 12 in the top 18 in rebounding (2nd, 9.3), assists (7th, 4.2) and scoring (18th, 13.2).

- With a balanced scoring attack, TCU has five players averaging double-figures, seven averaging 8.6 points or more.

- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks No. 9 in the Big 12 in scoring (15.5) and has scored in double figures in the last 19 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 50.0.

- Bane ranks in the top 10 in field goal efficiency (7th, 68.0) and true shooting percentage (10th, 69.1).

About the Opponent

- Baylor had won five straight games until a 71-60 loss to West Virginia Tuesday.

- The Bears are led in scoring by Manu Lecomte at 16.4 points per game, the fifth-best in the Big 12.

- Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. ranks third in the Big 12 with 9.2 rebounds per game. His 12 double-doubles rank second in the Big 12.

About the Series

- Saturday is the 183rd all-time meeting between TCU and Baylor. It is TCU’s second-most played series behind SMU (192).

- TCU’s 81-79 overtime win in Waco on Jan. 2 this season, was its first win over Baylor in 11 tries.

- TCU last swept Baylor during the 1988-89 season, a 66-53 win on Jan. 7, 1989 and a 75-45 win on Feb. 8, 1989.

- Baylor leads the overall series 100-82. TCU leads the series in Fort Worth, 42-41.

- TCU has lost its last five games with Baylor in Fort Worth, the last win coming on Dec. 29, 2001 by the score of 92-81.

Academic All-Big 12

A TCU record, five players, were named Academic All-Big 12 on Feb. 23. Five selections were also the most of any school in the conference. Seniors Vladimir Brodziansky (psychology), Clayton Crawford (finance and real estate), Dalton Dry (management) and Austin Sottile (accounting) were named to the first team with GPAs of 3.20 or better and senior Ahmed Hamdy (master of liberal arts) earned second team honors with a GPA of 3.00-3.20.

Consistent Vlad

Vladimir Brodziansky has scored in double-figures in each of the last 19 games. That is the most consecutive games of at least 10 points for TCU since Kevin Langford went 21-straight games from Nov. 17, 2007 to Feb. 13, 2008.

Chasing 20

TCU is one win away from 20. The Frogs can reach 20 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign when they won 20 for the third-straight season. If the Frogs reach 20 wins during the regular season, it will be the earliest they reach 20 since the 1997-98 season when they won No. 20 on Feb. 7. Last season, TCU’s 20th win came on March 15 against Fresno State, the first game of the NIT.

- With one more win, Jamie Dixon will have 20 wins in 14 of his 15 seasons as a head coach. Of the five Big 12 coaches who have at least 15 years of head coaching experience, only Bill Self (15-of-15) has more 20-win seasons over the last 15 years.

Conference Wins

TCU’s seven Big 12 wins are the most its ever had in six seasons as a member of the conference. The Frogs went 6-12 last season, Jamie Dixon’s first season with the team. In TCU’s previous four seasons in the Big 12, it had only eight wins.

- Seven conference wins are the most since going 7-7 in the Mountain West Conference during the 2011-12 season. TCU last had eight conference wins during the 2004-05 Conference USA season when it went 8-8.

- TCU has three conference road wins for the first time since the 2003-04 season when three of its seven Conference USA wins came away from home. Four road wins would be the most since eight during the 1997-98 season.

- TCU has four season sweeps of Big 12 teams in its history, including two this season. The Frogs swept Texas Tech in 2015, Texas in 2017 and Oklahoma State and Iowa State this season.

Shooting and Scoring

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 12th in the NCAA in scoring offense (84.6). 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 (19.4).

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and ninth in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.4%). TCU has never averaged 50 percent or better in a season.

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 10 in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (41.3%).

- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks fourth at 122.7 according to KenPom.com. It is up from last season’s 114.5 (37th), which was the best offensive efficiency TCU has ever had, since KenPom started in 2002. Dixon’s top offensive efficiency was 121.2 at Pitt during the 2008-09 season.

- TCU has three among the top 10 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 4. Vladimir Brodziansky - 57.4, 6. Desmond Bane - 56.1, 9. Kouat Noi - 53.2. TCU is the only teams with three players ranked in the top 10 in shooting percentage in the Big 12.

- Sophomore Desmond Bane (50.0) leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting. Freshman Kouat Noi (46.8) 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 (82.1). He is first in Big 12 only games at 89.6 percent (69-of-77).

- TCU has scored 90 points or better nine 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.