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TCU Basketball Preview: @ #12 Texas Tech

The Frogs close out the regular season in Lubbock

TCU Basketball vs Kansas State, February 27th, 2018
TCU Basketball vs Kansas State, February 27th, 2018
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 3:00 PM CST | Location: United Supermarkets Arena – Lubbock, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Texas Tech leads 80-51 | Game Line: Texas Tech -5

The TCU Horned Frogs (21-9) travel to Lubbock to take on the #12 Texas Tech Red Raiders (22-8) in their final game before the Big 12 Tournament. The Frogs are riding high, as they’ve won four in a row, the most recent a 66-59 win against Kansas State. Kenrich Williams showed out in his last home game, leading the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Desmond Bane was the other Frog in double figures, as he scored 15. Vladimir Brodziansky had 7 points and 6 rebounds and Ahmed Hamdy put in 8 and 5 in their final games in Schollmaier Arena. It was impressive win for the Frogs, as they won in spite of bad three point shooting (5/20) and turnover problems (16). The Frogs would have lost a game playing that way in January, and it’s a testament to how far they’ve come this season.

Tech is trending in the opposite way of TCU, as their 84-74 loss to West Virginia extended their losing streak to four games. To be fair, Keenan Evans was injured against Baylor and missed the WVU game. Jarrett Culver led the way in Evans’s absence, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Niem Stevenson also had 24, while Zhaire Smith put in 12. Tech’s four game losing streak has come after a seven game winning streak, including their last matchup with TCU. With Evans expected to play, and it being senior night in Lubbock, the Frogs will need all hands on deck to beat a team that nearly ended KU’s conference championship streak.

Here is the breakdown of the first matchup in Fort Worth, which the Frogs lost 83-71. It was one of the Frogs’ worst performances of the year, as they fell down double digits very quickly and were behind by as much as 28. Everybody got in on the action for the Raiders, and the game quickly spiraled out of control. Tech is a really good team; they have one of the top defenses in the entire country and their offense is explosive with great athletes across the board. However, if the Frogs want to get anywhere in March, they’re going to have to beat teams like this in difficult conditions.

Keenan Evans remains the key piece for Tech, though he has been hobbled over the course of their losing streak with a foot injury. Playing through the pain, he’s averaged just 4 points per game on 16% shooting (3/19). He’s had a week off before this game, so perhaps he will get back to looking like the Keenan Evans of old. Also returning from injury is starting forward Justin Gray, a key cog in their front-court rotation. Through all these lineup changes, it has been two freshmen, Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith, who have stepped up. The pair of wing players have taken on the burden of scoring, easing the pressure on players like Niem Stevenson who have had expanded roles distributing and running with the first unit.

Three Things to Look For

How healthy is Keenan Evans?

This one just seems like the obvious elephant in the room. Tech will go as Evans goes, this has been true all season and it will be true in the NCAA Tournament. Tech’s losing streak can be directly connected to his injury, and even though he’s going to play Saturday, I have my doubts as the whether or not he’s 100%. Still, three returning contributors is big for Tech, so expect them to get a boost.

Consistent offense

Last game, the Frogs hung around for about five minutes before the floodgates opened. Even after they righted the ship, it was too late to mount a serious comeback. Tech has athletes, and they attack you relentlessly for all 40 minutes. TCU cannot get in one of their cold spells that plagued them earlier in conference play. It’ll be tough against an elite defense, but with how the Frogs have looked recently, I like their chances.

Don’t foul

Texas Tech lives at the free throw line, they are tops in the conference at FTA/FGA ratio, which measures how many free throws a team gets per shot attempt, and in percentage of points from free throws at just over 1/5. TCU has some foul prone guys like Ahmed Hamdy, and with a thin 8 man rotation, foul trouble could sink the Frogs. Staying out of foul trouble therefore has the double bonus of keeping the best Frogs on the court and taking Tech out of their game.

Prediction

This is a tough prediction to make, since we know so little about the health of Keenan Evans. If he’s not 100%, TCU has a great shot to win and take some momentum into the tournament. If he’s healthy, it’ll be a dog fight in a real tough arena. I think there are more factors leaning Tech’s way here: homecourt advantage, Evans at possible 100%, senior night. It wouldn’t shock me if TCU kept up the current trends and knocked Tech off, and it’ll be a close game, but I’ll pick the Raiders for this one. Look for how Evans is though, and that’ll be the real tell.

Prediction: #12 Texas Tech 75, TCU 73

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

- TCU has won four-straight conference games for the first time since going the 1997-98 season when it went 14-0.

- TCU is coming off a 66-59 win over Kansas State Tuesday. It was TCU’s fewest points in a win this season.

- TCU’s nine conference wins are the most since the 2000-01 season when it went 9-7 in the WAC.

- TCU has won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign.

- TCU is 2-6 against AP top 25 teams this season with wins over then-No. 7 West Virginia and No. 22 Nevada.

- TCU has never defeated three top 25 teams in the same season.

- TCU has not defeated a ranked team on the road since Jan. 19, 1998 at No. 24 Hawaii.

- TCU leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks among the national leaders in assists per game (2nd, 19.2), assist turnover ratio (12th, 1.5), field goal percentage (7th, 50.3) and 3-point percentage (15th, 40.7).

- TCU also ranks among the national leaders in rebounding margin (20th, +6.3) and scoring (19th, 83.9).

- Of the last four games, TCU opponents have shot 42.9 percent from the field. TCU has won by an average of 10.8 points.

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

- Kenrich Williams has recorded 11 double-doubles and is averaging 13.0 points and a team-best 9.3 rebounds this season.

- Williams is seven rebounds shy of passing James Cash for fourth on the TCU all-time rebounding list.

- Williams is the only player in the Big 12 in the top 17 in rebounding (2nd, 9.3), assists (7th, 4.1) and scoring (17th, 13.0).

- TCU has five players among the top 15 in the Big 12 in field goal percentage.

- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks No. 12 in the Big 12 in scoring (15.1) and third in shooting percentage (57.3).

- Brodziansky is a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award and the Senior CLASS Award.

- Brodziansky is six blocks away from tying the all-time TCU record held by James Penny (171).

- Desmond Bane leads the Big 12 and ranks 14th in the NCAA in 3-point percentage at 47.8.

- 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. 10 in the AP Top 25 on Dec. 25, which was its highest ranking in school history.

- One season after winning its first postseason tournament, TCU will try to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Since 1985, 58 percent of the teams that won the NIT made the NCAA Tournament the following season.

About the Opponent

- After winning seven-straight games, Texas Tech has dropped its last four, including an 84-74 loss at West Virginia Monday.

- The Red Raiders are led by senior guard Keenan Evans and his 17.2 points per game, which rank third in the Big 12.

- Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in scoring defense, field goal defense and 3-point defense.

About the Series

- Texas Tech leads the all-time series 80-51 with a 45-15 advantage in Lubbock.

- Texas Tech has won the last two meetings in Lubbock. Last season the Red Raiders beat the Frogs 75-69 on Jan. 18, 2017.

- In the first meeting this season, the Frogs trailed 48-24 at halftime and outscored the Red Raiders, 47-35 in the second half before falling 83-71 on Feb. 3 in Fort Worth.

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.

20 Wins

TCU has won at least 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign when it won 20 for the third-straight season. With their 20th win coming on Feb. 24, it is the earliest the Frogs have reached 20 wins 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.

- Jamie Dixon has won at least 20 games 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. Dixon went 19-15 in 2014-15 at Pittsburgh.

Conference Wins

TCU’s nine Big 12 wins are its most conference wins in a season since going 9-7 in the WAC during the 2000-01 season. TCU has not won 10 conference games since going 14-0 in the WAC during the 1997-98 season. The Frogs have won 10 games nine times in their program history.

- In the two seasons Jamie Dixon has coached TCU, the Frogs have gone 15-19 in the Big 12. TCU was 8-64 in its previous four season in the league.

- TCU has won four consecutive conference games for the first time since going 14-0 in the WAC during the 1997-98 season.

- 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 WAC season.

- TCU has three sweeps of Big 12 teams this season, five in its history. The Frogs swept Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State this season. They swept Texas Tech in 2015, Texas in 2017.

Record Home Attendance

TCU averaged 6,561 per its 18 home games this season, a school record for highest average attendance in a season. The old record was 6,341 during the 1986-87 season at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. It was Jamie Dixon’s senior season.

- Last season’s attendance average of 6,127 is the third-most in program history. The top three attendance averages in TCU history all came with Jamie Dixon on the court.

Shooting and Scoring

- TCU ranks second in the Big 12 and 19th in the NCAA in scoring offense (83.9). 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 (19.2).

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and seventh in the NCAA in field goal shooting (50.3%). TCU has never averaged 50 percent or better in a season.

- TCU ranks first in the Big 12 and 15th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting (40.7%).

- TCU’s offensive efficiency ranks seventh at 121.9 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 five players in the top 15 in shooting percentage in the Big 12... 3. Vladimir Brodziansky - 57.3, 6. Desmond Bane - 55.5, 12. Kouat Noi - 51.1, 14. Kenrich Williams - 47.9, 15. JD Miller - 47.8.

- Sophomore Desmond Bane (47.8) leads the Big 12 in 3-point shooting. Freshman Kouat Noi (44.7) is third. The school record for 3-point shooting percentage in a season, with a min. of 2.0 makes per game, 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 (82.2). He is first in Big 12 only games at 88.8 percent (75-of-85).

- 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.