TCU Basketball student-athletes and head coach Jamie Dixon sat down with the media on Saturday ahead of their second-round matchup against the 1-seed Arizona Wildcats.
The theme of the day? Respect.
The Frogs had nothing but praise when asked about facing a team of Arizona’s caliber, but as always, none of the athletes lacked confidence despite the daunting task ahead of them.
“I think they’re [Arizona] very dissimilar to really anybody,” said Dixon. “It’s a very uncommon group out there now that they have, but, yet, they have good shooting, good spacing, well-coached, good pace of play, and depth. They have a great balance offensively.”
Although Dixon had a ton of respect for Tommy Lloyd’s group, he never downplayed the Frogs’ chances to come away with a win.
Having played current 1-seed Kansas three times within a two-week time span has prepared the Frogs for just about anything the tournament throws at them.
“We’ve been challenged, we know what we have to do,” said Dixon. “We’ve been challenged in a unique way too, unlike anybody else probably in the country, but we’re still showing up and looking forward to the opportunity.”
Like we saw earlier this afternoon with 8-seed UNC upsetting 1-seed Baylor in Fort Worth, anything is possible. These seeds are subjective and it seems like the Frogs are paying no mind to the numbers and projections.
“I did watch that game [Baylor vs UNC],” said Micah Peavy. “Mike is my roommate, so I was just telling him, like, we can do this. Like we’ve said before, we just have to lock in on the defensive end, honestly. That’s really what our focus is; defense. The ball is going to go in on the offensive end, so we have to lock in on defense because they’re a really good team.”
Mike Miles echoed the sentiment.
“We have what it takes to beat the top teams,” said Miles. “We know we have to play the same way we did those games [Kansas & Tech] and like we did yesterday, on defense, rebounding, trying to stop their best players, stop them in transition.”
Defensively, the Frogs put on a clinic against Seton Hall. A scrappy Big East foe is one thing, but lining up against the 3rd highest-scoring offense in the country (84.6 PPG) is another beast entirely.
In last night’s contest, TCU absolutely shut down Jared Rhoden, who was considered to be the Pirates’ best player entering the tournament. The senior guard was held to 5 points on 2-for-7 shooting with a pair of turnovers.
Unfortunately for the Frogs, they won’t be facing Rhoden twice in a row. This time around, TCU will have to put their defensive efforts towards stopping Bennedict Mathurin, a Canadian-born guard leading the Wildcats offensively with 17.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.5 APG.
Mathurin made the cut for the 20-man Wooden Award finalist roster and is currently a projected lottery pick in the 2022 draft. Although it’s their first time meeting at the collegiate level, Jamie Dixon and Mike Miles played against the Canadian in the FIBA U19 World Cup.
“I remember Bennedict,” said Miles. “He was good, he was on the Canada team. It was a close game. It was a good game. So I definitely know what he is capable of. We all know what he is capable of. We’ll have to crack down on him and try to stop him.”
Micah Peavy, who will likely be guarding Mathurin for a large portion of the game, also chimed in: “He likes to come off a lot of screens for his shots, and he likes to get out in transition because he is a really athletic player. So it’s going to be tough, but you just have to I say play like we played Ochai from Kansas,” said Peavy.
Regardless of who lines up on the opposite sidelines, NBA prospect or not, this group is zoned in with one goal in mind: make history.
“For me, it’s just I bring the energy on the team, and then we all just locked in from shoot-around, from travel, from when they called our name on Sunday. Everybody on the team was just locked in,” said Eddie Lampkin.
Mike Miles piggybacked off Lampkin’s statement, emphasizing the importance of a win tomorrow for the program as a whole.
“It [winning] means a lot,” said Miles. “We made history yesterday winning a game. 35 years. We’re looking to make more history tomorrow.”
The Frogs will have a chance to win multiple NCAA Tournament games for the first time in program history this Sunday as they take on the 1-seed Arizona Wildcats.
Tipoff is at 8:40 pm CST and the game will be broadcast on TNT or can be viewed live on the MM Live app.