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TCU Basketball Preview: Oklahoma State

The Frogs look to get back on track in a must win game

TCU Basketball vs Florida Gators (1.25.19)
Jamie Dixon is wondering what happened to his defense last week. TCU has a shot to get it back on track tonight.
Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Oklahoma State leads 25-6 | Game Line: TCU -9

The TCU Horned Frogs (15-6) look to snap a cold spell, as they return home to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-12). The Frogs were embarrassed in Waco last Saturday, losing 90-64. Three players ended up in double figures: JD Miller (17), Alex Robinson (16), and Kouat Noi (15). It was a depressing performance, and I’d like to spend as little time on it as possible.

Oklahoma State is coming off an embarrassing loss of their own, a 75-57 shellacking on their home floor by Kansas State. Only two players ended up in double figures: Curtis Jones (14) and Lindy Waters (12). While the Frogs have had a rough patch, I think it’s fair to say that OSU’s past month has been just as bad if not worse. Mike Boynton’s squad had to dismiss key players like Michael Weathers and Maurice Calloo, depleting their roster to the point that they had open tryouts for the team. A close win against South Carolina in the Big 12/SEC Challenge is their only win in their last 5 contests. They were only 7-6 in non-conference play, sporting a terrible loss to Charlotte and losing 4 straight against teams like Minnesota and Tulsa. That said, they do have some nice wins, such as a 13 point victory over LSU and a home win over Texas.

Few teams live or die by the three quite like the Pokes. They shoot a very healthy 38.6% from distance, 19th nationally, but their interior scoring is dreadful. Their already terrible 46% on twos (309th nationally) has tanked to 41% in Big 12 play, showing that other teams just lock them down inside. Defensively, they are far more sound inside. They actually struggle far more with defending threes, an interesting symmetry with their offense. OSU is a very deliberate team. They will take their time setting up their offense to get a good look at a shot, and defensively they work to get a hand in your face and closeout hard. This doesn’t always work out for them, especially after their depth took a hit, but it can keep them competitive in most games.

Projected Starting Five

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

2018-19 Stats: 13.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 39/35/76 shooting splits

McGriff is a crazy athlete who could be on Sportscenter any given night thanks to his high flying dunks. He attacks the glass harder than anyone else on the team, so it’s no surprise he’s easily their team leader on the glass. As the team scoring leader, he has taken on a much larger segment of the offense, leading to a tanking of his field goal percentage below 40%. He’s a threat on both ends of the court, a trait that will help him as he tries to make it on the next level, but that makes him the most dynamic threat the Frogs will face on Wednesday night. They need to run him off the three point line and make him take tough contested twos. Box out McGriff, and limit his impact overall on the game.

#21 Lindy Waters (Junior from Norman, OK)

2018-19 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.8 RPG, 44/47/95 shooting splits

Waters is having an incredible season putting the ball in the hole. 47% from deep on nearly 5 attempts a game is no joke, and neither is only missing 3 free throws all season (3rd best free throw shooter in the country). The result is 61.4% true shooting (162nd nationally), which has only gone up since conference play started. Waters is definitely one of the most improved players in the conference. He too has struggled inside, a decline of almost 13 points in two point shooting, but in just about every other metric he has excelled this season. The Frogs can’t afford to let Waters get hot in this matchup.

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

2018-19 Stats: 10.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 41/44/67 shooting splits

Dziagwa is exactly what you would picture if I said “three point specialist”. Almost 80% of his attempts are from beyond the arc, and he drills them at a 44% rate. He brings very little else to the table; he’s only shot 9 free throws this season and defensively he fails to make any noise. Still, guys that can fill it up in the blink of an eye are always dangerous, especially when they aren’t the #1 option. He and Waters are the Splash Bros of Oklahoma State, and their three point shooting will determine if OSU can stay in it.

#13 Isaac Likekele (Freshman from Arlington, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 7.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.5 APG, 46/27/63 shooting splits

Likekele, hailing from the same high school as Alex Robinson, has already proved a lot by running the point as a true freshman. He’s shown strong instincts driving to the rim, as well as in distributing the ball. The peak of his season came against West Virginia, where Likekele filled up Morgantown with 23 points and 9 boards. In the 5 games following, it has been a real struggle for Likekele. He’s averaging only just over 3 points a contest on 24% shooting. This compounds with his natural predilection for turnovers, although he is coming off a 7 assist no turnover game. Likekele has shown a lot his freshman year, but the Pokes will need him to start playing better if they want to win more games.

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

2018-19 Stats: 6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 65/0/55 shooting splits

Anei is the man in the middle for the Cowboys. Standing at 6’10, Anei is gaining confidence every game and is already a menace on the defensive side of the ball. His 11.7 block rate is 16th in the country, and it seems like every Big 12 school has these lanky bigs who swat shots from the weakside. He hits the offensive glass hard; he’s much better on the offensive than defensive glass actually. He gets in foul trouble a lot, and can struggle against more physical bigs, but the Pokes have to be ecstatic to see what they’ve gotten out of a freshman center this year.

Projected Reserves

#1 Curtis Jones (Junior from Richmond, VA)

2018-19 Stats: 9.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 36/32/73 shooting splits

Jones, a transfer from Indiana, has been streaky this season. If there’s one thing to know when #1 steps on the court, it’s that he’s got the green light and will put up a bunch of shots. He could go 1/7 or 1/8 from three (South Carolina and Iowa State) or he can drill 5/10 (Central Arkansas) or 3/5 (Kansas State). We will have to wait and see which Jones shows up to Fort Worth, as he will either kill the Frogs or hamstring the Pokes.

#5 Duncan Demuth (Freshman from Seminole, FL)

2018-19 Stats: 1.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.1 APG, 25/50/36 shooting splits

Demuth has been incredibly passive as a freshman, and even with all the attrition he only played one minute against Kansas State. He rebounds well on the offensive glass, but his defensive rebounding has been putrid for a 6’8 forward. Who knows if Demuth will see more minutes; I would personally expect a 6 man rotation with Jones unless foul trouble strikes.

Three Things to Look For

Live or Die: Three Ball Edition

This game will be decided by how the Frogs defend the three. McGriff, Waters, and Dziagwa can all hurt you from three, and the Pokes hot shooting is a season long phenomenon. Luckily, so is the Frogs’ rock solid three point defense. Even after Makai Mason did his best Michael Jordan impression, the Frogs are only surrendering 33% shooting from three in Big 12 play. Who wins this battle will likely win the game.

Advantage on the Depth Chart

For the first time since December, I will say the Frogs have the depth advantage in a game. OSU’s starters + Jones will play very heavy minutes, which should be an advantage for the Frogs. I firmly believe that some of our struggles are due to the wear and tear on guys like A Rob and Desmond Bane, but OSU is suffering that even worse. The Frogs have to feel good about how fresh their guys will be.

Home Court Vibes

The Frogs are a different team at home, sporting a 10-1 record (5-5 elsewhere). It’s a later game on a Wednesday night, very few students will have the night class excuse. Everyone needs to get out and support the team in the Schollmaier for this game. No excuses about the quality of play, it’s these times that make or break a fanbase.

Prediction

I know it’s been a lot of doom and gloom recently among TCU fans. There’s good reason for that sentiment, two straight beatdowns on the road is discouraging and the Frogs have been knocked in everything from KenPom to NET. However, a matchup with OSU might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Frogs finally have a matchup that, on paper, looks like it heavily favors them. Use this game to get Bane back on track, and continue to familiarize Kendric Davis, Lat Mayen, and Russell Barlow to the offense. Frogs deliver a resounding win to remind people they aren’t done yet.

Prediction: TCU 78, Oklahoma State 69

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

  • TCU will try for its eighth straight Big 12 home win when it hosts Oklahoma State Wednesday at 8 p.m.
  • The Frogs are 18-26 in Big 12 play under Jamie Dixon after going 9-9 last season, the most in their six seasons of the Big 12.
  • TCU is 10-1 overall at home this season and 3-0 in Big 12 play.
  • Senior guard Alex Robinson ranks fifth in the nation at 7.3 assists per game. He is three assists away matching and four away from surpassing Corey Santee’s school record of 575 career assists. Robinson went over 1,000 career points at TCU during Saturday’s game. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12 and on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award.
  • Junior guard Desmond Bane ranks 10th in the Big 12 with 14.4 points per game and sophomore Kouat Noi ranks seventh at 14.9 (in four fewer games.) Noi has made a 3-pointer in 20-straight games.
  • Redshirt freshman Kevin Samuel ranks second in the Big 12 and 17th nationally in shooting accuracy at 67.0 percent.
  • Bane is seven points away and JD Miller is 23 points from 1,000 for their career.
  • The Horned Frogs rank 10th in the nation with 17.6 assists per game, ninth in 3-point percentage defense at 28.6 and 31st in offensive efficiency.
  • On TCU’s current roster, only four played in a Big 12 game prior to this season. Six are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
  • For the first time this season TCU is not receiving votes in either the AP or the Coaches Top 25 polls. The Frogs began the season ranked No. 21 and were ranked for three-straight weeks to begin the season, topping out at No. 18.