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TCU Basketball Preview: Oklahoma State

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: it’s another must win for the Frogs

Oklahoma State Basketball at TCU Basketball | Fort Worth, TX | February 6, 2019
Oklahoma State Basketball at TCU Basketball | Fort Worth, TX | February 6, 2019
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena – Stillwater, OK | TV: ESPNU | Series: Oklahoma State leads 25-7 | Game Line: TCU -3

The TCU Horned Frogs (17-8) have a quick turnaround after a disappointing loss, as they hit the road to face off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-16). It was a bad home loss for the Frogs last time out, as they were beaten by a flailing Oklahoma team, 71-62. Kendric Davis was once again TCU’s best player, tying for the team lead with 14 points (JD Miller had 14 as well as 10 rebounds). RJ Nembhard (12) and Alex Robinson (10) joined them in double figures. The team was missing Kouat Noi, who had 30 in the previous matchup in Norman, but it was still a loss that seriously jeopardizes their tournament chances moving forward.

The Cowboys have had a rough season to put it mildly, and their woes continued with a 69-57 loss in Austin to UT. Thomas Dziagwa all scorers with 23, joined in double figures by Isaac Likekele’s 16. The loss was their 5th in a row, including a defeat in Fort Worth just 2 weeks ago. They haven’t won a Big 12 game since January 12, and their only win in the past month was in the Big 12/SEC challenge over South Carolina. However, the Frogs got thoroughly outplayed by a similarly struggling Oklahoma team, so Frog fans shouldn’t count this as an easy win by any means.

Here is a link to the previous game between these teams. It was a game that TCU mostly controlled, until the Cowboys came roaring back in the second half to make it a ball game. JD Miller had to come through in the clutch in a game that shouldn’t have needed those heroics at all. OSU may be 0-3 in the interim, but they’ve had 3 tough games. On the road against Kansas and Texas and hosting Texas Tech are all games that you can just about pencil in as a loss for most teams, so the Pokes may be quite a bit better than their record shows.

Projected Starting Five

#12 Cameron McGriff (Junior from Grand Prairie, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 13.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 40/33/76 shooting splits

McGriff had a quiet game in Fort Worth before fouling out, registering a mere 8 points on 3/9 shooting. He then proceeded to put up big numbers in a single handed effort against Kansas, and had a respectable game against Tech. McGriff is what he is; you’ll get plenty of hustle for the whole time he’s out there. I expect McGriff to have a much better game at home and to give the Frogs some trouble on the glass.

#21 Lindy Waters (Junior from Norman, OK)

2018-19 Stats: 11.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 43/45/92 shooting splits

Waters’s numbers on the season remain strong, though he’s entered a bit of a scoring downturn starting with our game. He too didn’t have a particularly fine outing in Fort Worth, scoring 7 points on 2/7 shooting. A leader on the team, Waters is another guy who will continue attacking the boards and trying to execute the offense even when things aren’t going great. He’ll always been a threat from beyond on this three-happy team, and that’s where I’d be most concerned if I were the Frogs.

#4 Thomas Dziagwa (Junior from Temple Terrace, FL)

2018-19 Stats: 10.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 40/45/73 shooting splits

If you want Dziagwa in two numbers, it’s this: 24.5% on two pointers, 44.6% from three. The guy can get red hot in a moments notice from long range; he had 23 points on 7/11 from three despite shooting 0/6 from within the three point line. He had similar splits against TCU: 14 points on 4/7 from three (5/11 overall). You have to run Dziagwa off the three point line, or hope he just goes cold for the game as he can sometimes do.

#13 Isaac Likekele (Freshman from Arlington, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 8.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 48/25/63 shooting splits

Likekele was the star of the first matchup, pouring in 17 points and leading the charge of OSU’s comeback (though in complete fairness, this was before Kendric Davis woke up and decided to become our best player). He had a similarly nice game against Texas last time out, and is the only player I noticed in my research whose stats have gone uniformly up since my last preview. The young kid gets after it, and it’ll be fun to see the matchup of freshman guards between him and Kendric Davis this time out.

#14 Yor Anei (Freshman from Overland Park, KS)

2018-19 Stats: 7.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 63/0/61 shooting splits

Anei was huge for the Pokes the first go around, getting the better of JD Miller and Kevin Samuel en route to a career high 20 points. He hasn’t come close to that production since, in fact the past three games have been a major struggle for him, but the Frogs will have to change up their game plan to account for how he eviscerated their defense last time out. The Pokes shouldn’t rely on him scoring 20, but they also likely can rely on their primary guys scoring a few more goals. We’ll see if the Frogs can make their adjustments wisely.

Projected Reserves

#1 Curtis Jones (Junior from Richmond, VA)

2018-19 Stats: 7.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 33/29/73 shooting splits

It’s been a rough 4 games for Jones, as he’s averaged 2.3 points on 19% shooting. The Pokes desperately need some kind of scoring off the bench, and he’s just not providing it as of right now. He’ll play around 15 minutes out of pure necessity, but if the Pokes had anything resembling depth he’d have long since been benched. Maybe Jones can snap out of it with a big game, but I’d be surprised.

#5 Duncan Demuth (Freshman from Seminole, FL)

2018-19 Stats: 1.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.2 APG, 29/50/36 shooting splits

Demuth has been relegated to the very end of the bench despite their depth problems, which I think can tell you already how important he’ll be to this game. But hey, maybe we’ll get a riveting 2 minutes of Demuth vs Russell Barlow?

Three Things to Look For

New Rotations?

Kouat Noi is banged up. Lat Mayen is out for the year. Kendric Davis is suddenly the most consistent player on the team. All these factors can upend what was once a very steady TCU rotation. I’ve given up hope that Russell Barlow will get any sort of PT, but I’m interested to see how this new jumbled lineup can mesh on the floor. The Frogs will have to make do and fast if they want to salvage the season.

Anei or More?

Last matchup, Anei absolutely dominated the Frogs inside. This says less about Anei personally and more about how inept the Frogs have been on the interior in conference play. I recognize JD is having the defend up a position, but something schematically will need to be different to give him some more help.

The Jamie Dixon Factor.

Spending the season covering this team, the biggest thing that has struck me is how they always seem to bounce back after adversity. The ebb and flow is constant; they lose a game that they should easily win and you think they’re done, then they come out with an effort you couldn’t imagine. It’s awful as a guy who predicts the score every game (I yearn for Indiana State when I actually got it right for once), but a real testament to Coach Dixon’s ability to rally the troops and recover quickly. This isn’t the tallest task they’ve faced yet, but it is definitely the most important. I’m excited to see what Coach Dixon does this time, and we should count ourselves lucky that he is the one at the controls right now.

Prediction

I was way too cocky in my Oklahoma preview. The Frogs played low IQ basketball and paid the consequences, as a switch to zone defense just froze us for long stretches of time. I think the Frogs have a better idea of what they’re getting against OSU, who has played the same starting 5 basically every game this year. I’m not going to go too crazy, because it’s hard to win on the road in this conference, but I think the Frogs pull out a close one.

Prediction: TCU 75, Oklahoma State 73

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

  • Just 12 days after an exciting finish in Schollmaier Arena, TCU and Oklahoma State will meet again at Gallagher-Iba Arena Monday at 8 p.m.
  • In the first meeting on Feb. 6, TCU led by as many as 13 late in the first half, but OSU led by seven with 5:28 remaining before the game was decided on a JD Miller 10-foot “buzzer beater” (there was 0.3 added to the clock upon review). Alex Robinson finished with 10 points and 11 assists and Desmond Bane had 26 points.
  • The Frogs are 20-28 in Big 12 play under Jamie Dixon after going 9-9 last season, the most in their six seasons of the Big 12. n Alex Robinson ranks sixth in the nation at 7.1 assists per game. He is TCU’s all-time assist leader, eclipsing the previous mark of 575 career assists against Oklahoma State. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
  • TCU and Kansas are the only Big 12 teams with two players in the top 10 in the conference in scoring. TCU with Desmond Bane (8th/14.9 and Kouat Noi (9th/14.8) and KU with Dedric Lawson (1st/19.2) and Legerald Vick (10th/14.1). TCU was without Noi (ankle), on Saturday against Oklahoma.
  • Kevin Samuel ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 2.0 blocks per game and has recorded multiple blocks in eight of his last 10 games. His 50 blocked shots is the most ever by a TCU freshman. He also ranks fourth in the Big 12, first among freshman, with 7.2 rebounds per game.
  • Desmond Bane (vs. OSU), Alex Robinson (at BU) and JD Miller (vs. KU) each went over 1,000 career points recently. TCU is one of four teams in the nation with three 1,000 point scorers on its roster.
  • The Horned Frogs rank 15th in the nation with 16.8 assists per game, 24th in 3-point percentage defense at 30.2, 42nd in offensive efficiency at 112.2 and 42nd in defensive efficiency at 96.4.
  • On TCU’s current roster, only four played in a Big 12 game prior to this season. Six are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.