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TCU Basketball Preview: Texas Tech

The Frogs return home for what will probably be their toughest remaining game

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 3:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Texas Tech leads 82-51 | Game Line: Texas Tech -4

The TCU Horned Frogs (18-10) will look to revive their Tournament hopes once again, as they host the #11 Texas Tech Red Raiders (23-5), who are in pursuit of a Big 12 regular season title. Last time out the Frogs dropped a disappointing 3OT game in Morgantown, 104-96. JD Miller led the scoring with 24 points, followed by Desmond Bane (17), Kouat Noi (17 and 10 rebounds), Alex Robinson (16), and RJ Nembhard (15). The Frogs couldn’t execute their final possessions, and finally ran out of gas in the third overtime.

Tech escaped with an OT win of their own over Oklahoma State, 84-80, after blowing a 14 point second half lead. Davide Moretti had 20 points on the strength of perfect 12/12 free throw shooting, while Jarrett Culver had a double double (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Tariq Owens put in 16. Since shellacking the Frogs in Lubbock, the Raiders are 6-1, including a signature win via drubbing Kansas. They’ve been world beaters on their current 6 win streak, with their closest game being decided by 12 points (@Oklahoma) before eeking out the win over the Pokes. Their only loss came in Allen Fieldhouse, and there’s no shame in that. While the Frogs will have the advantage of being at home, Tech has been solid on the road, crushing both Oklahoma teams after starting their road slate slow.

Here is the preview from the first Tech matchup on January 28. The Frogs have gone 3-5 in the span since that article was written.

Projected Starting Five

#23 Jarrett Culver (Sophomore from Lubbock, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 18.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 49/34/69 shooting splits

Culver remains the most dangerous weapon in Tech’s arsenal, and he eviscerated the Frogs inside last game to the tune of 18 points and 7 boards. He was 0/6 from three in that matchup, reflecting an overall decline from his hot shooting to start the season (22% in Big 12 play, though he’s still at 34% on the season). There’s a reason he will be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, and it’s his all around offensive package. He still leads the team in assists (impressive 26% assist rate) and slashes inside, forcing his way to the free throw line (6.2 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, 68th nationally). There’s very little to dislike in Culver’s game, especially at the college level, and he will get his no matter what you try on defense. The goal should be to limit him like the Jayhawks did in Lawrence, where he had 10 points on 5/17 shooting. Obviously, that is easier said than done, as he has rebounded with consistent amazing performances since.

#25 Davide Moretti (Sophomore from Bologna, Italy)

2018-19 Stats: 11.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 49/46/93 shooting splits

Moretti is possibly the best shooter in the Big 12, averaging 51% from three in conference (on almost 5 attempts per game!) and ranking 2nd in true shooting (74%). He came up clutch against Oklahoma State, nailing all his free throws down the stretch to preserve Tech’s winning streak. He’s the X factor on this team, and if his hot shooting continues, Tech can play with anyone in the country. An underrated narrative of his season: glimpses of a great passer. He had 7 assists against the Frogs the first go around, and 8 in the Oklahoma State matchup in Stillwater.

#13 Matt Mooney (Senior from Wauconda, IL)

2018-19 Stats: 10.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 44/38/75 shooting splits

While he didn’t pour 30 more points on our heads last time around, Mooney still had one of his better games in a Tech uniform in the first TCU matchup. He had 18 points (a number he hasn’t matched since) and 5 assists, and he did it without relying on the three ball. Mooney’s true value comes on the defensive side of the ball, where he plays exceptional man to man D. His reemerging three point shot is just the icing on the cake; as long as he’s passing reasonably well and locking up on D he provides immense value to the Red Raiders. One of the reasons that Tech is in the thick of the title race is having a guy like Mooney as a tertiary scoring option. Mooney can create his own offense when necessary since he had to run the show at South Dakota, and not many teams in the country get that level of skill out of their third leading scorer.

#11 Tariq Owens (Senior from Odenton, MD)

2018-19 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, 58/23/76 shooting splits

So, I was a bit wrong on this evaluation. Kevin Samuel did well offensively in the first matchup, in fact I’d say he was one of the bright spots, but Owens had no problem scoring in the pick and roll. He ended up with 17 points and 6 boards, and he completely dictated the terms inside throughout the game. He’s such an interesting addition to this Tech squad, and his recent scoring crazy has only added to his value. The Frogs got a full taste of his talents last time out, and will clearly need to game plan differently to stop the talented grad transfer.

#32 Norense Odiase (Senior from Fort Worth, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 4.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 56/0/61 shooting splits

Odiase starts for one reason and one reason only: to grab boards. He does his job well, ranking 1st in the conference in offensive rebounding rate (15.4%) and 2nd in defensive rebounding rate (24.3). He’s also a nice defensive pairing with Owens, as they combine to lock up defenders and protect the rim. Additionally, he has shown a ton of heart and maturity, playing against Baylor the day after he had two cousins die in a car crash. #32 will definitely be giving full effort as long as he’s on the court, which can be limited on occasion due to foul trouble.

Projected Reserves

#0 Kyler Edwards (Freshman from Arlington, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 6.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 40/39/64 shooting splits

Edwards has broken out of his shooting slump, and is now shooting 31% from three in conference play (he was hovering below 20% last preview). He was pretty accurate in the January 28 matchup, and enjoyed a great performance against Oklahoma: 8 points on 3/3 shooting with 4 rebounds and 6 assists. He remains inconsistent, as most freshmen are, but he is a weapon on both ends who I expect to have another nice game.

#1 Brandone Francis (Senior from La Romana, Dominican Republic)

2018-19 Stats: 6.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 35/35/67 shooting splits

Francis has put up a couple of good games over the past month, scoring 16 and 11 points against West Virginia and Oklahoma in back to back games. His numbers still fall well flat of where they were a season ago, but he’s looked more like the player from his junior season as of late. He remains a high value energy player whose stats will often not completely reflect his impact on the game.

#3 Deshawn Corprew (Sophomore from Norfolk, VA)

2018-19 Stats: 5.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 57/40/67 shooting splits

Corprew is perhaps the most predictable member of the Red Raiders’ bench. He’ll score anywhere from 5-8 points, bank in a couple of threes, and hit the glass hard. There’s something to be said for a glue guy off your bench like Corprew has been, and it wouldn’t shock me if he grew into a staple in Tech’s starting five next season.

Three Things to Look For

How is the ball moving?

The Frogs have generally done a good job swinging the ball around. That came to an end last time against Tech, where they mustered only 9 assists as a team and coughed it up 13 times. Those are numbers that will guarantee a loss, even a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio won’t bode well for the Frogs. On the other end, they need to be more disruptive. Tech turned it over only 7 times, while dishing out 20 assists. These numbers tell the whole story, and they may need to be flipped for the Frogs to have a chance.

Second Chances

Tech has the top defense in the conference, while the Frogs have sputtered at times to establish an offensive identity. This should be no surprise considering the attrition the Frogs have suffered, but it’s a concerning factoid nonetheless. The Red Raiders are strong on the defensive glass, ranking 1st in the conference like in most other defensive stats, but the Frogs have been stout on the offensive glass themselves. If that is the one area they can crack the Tech D, they have a chance to keep it close.

Home Court Advantage?

The Frogs will need everybody out full force this time out. It’s a tough opponent, and they are terming it No Sit Saturday. I’ve a feeling the students will buy in, but it takes all of Fort Dixon for that to be effective. It’s a steep, steep mountain to climb, and there’s no way the Frogs can do it without everybody in attendance getting loud and standing tall.

Prediction

Who even knows with this team, am I right? We sweep Iowa State, but lose to Oklahoma State and West Virginia. I recognize both of the latter games were on the road, but still, those are games that tournament teams win. Tech, on paper, is the toughest opponent left on the schedule. I refuse to write this team off, but it admittedly doesn’t look great for them. I think it’s a much closer game than last time out, but the Frogs fall just short ala Kansas.

Prediction: #11 Texas Tech 70, TCU 65

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

  • TCU will host two ranked teams over three days when it hosts No. 11 Texas Tech Saturday at 3 p.m. and No. 16 Kansas State Monday at 8 p.m.
  • The Frogs are 21-30 in Big 12 play under Dixon after going 9-9 last season, the most in their six seasons of the Big 12.
  • Alex Robinson ranks sixth in the nation at 7.1 assists per game. He is TCU’s all-time assist leader at 616 and has 700 total when including his freshman season at Texas A&M. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
  • Desmond Bane (6th/15.1), Kouat Noi (7th/15.1) and Alex Robinson (11th/13.1) all rank in the top 11 in the Big 12 in scoring. No other team has three in the top 15.
  • Kevin Samuel ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 2.1 blocks per game and has recorded at least one block in the last 11 games. His 59 blocked shots is the most ever by a TCU freshman. He also ranks fifth in the Big 12, first among freshman, with 7.0 rebounds per game.
  • Kouat Noi, who has recorded a double-double in each of the last two games, has made at least one 3-pointer in 25 consecutive games, the third longest streak among major conference players. He ranks third in the Big 12 with 2.5 made threes per game.
  • The Horned Frogs rank 17th in the nation with 16.5 assists per game. For the third-straight year, TCU is leading the Big 12 in assists.
  • On TCU’s current roster, only four played in a Big 12 game prior to this season. Six are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.