Saturday’s game in Allen Fieldhouse couldn’t have gone any better for TCU.
In an absolute dominant showing for a whole 40 minutes, the Frogs seemingly hit every shot, never slowing down on the fastbreak, never letting up when Lawrence was loudest.
We hadn’t seen a consistent 40 minutes from the Frogs all season. We haven’t seen a better 40 minutes from the Frogs, maybe, ever.
TCU’s first win in Allen Fieldhouse: a 23-point win over the defending national champions.
Now, only a few days after the rout over Kansas, TCU will play host to the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday night in Schollmaier Arena.
Every conference game is crucial at this point, and tonight won’t be any different, for either squad. Oklahoma is firmly on the “bubble”, and on “bracket watch”; according to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, the Sooners are the “First Team Out” of the NCAA Tournament. Two back-to-back losses, to Oklahoma State and Baylor, haven’t helped their chances.
The Frogs, on the other hand, are rolling after that domination at Kansas. The Horned Frogs swept the season series against Oklahoma last season, but they’re the only two wins against the Sooners in the last 10 seasons. There’s plenty of motivation for the Sooners to come out with a motive.
But - as mentioned, the Frogs are now rolling and are back in the national spotlight after the win in Lawrence. The Frogs are now ranked #11 in the newest AP Poll, and they’ll try to keep momentum trending in the right direction as the Sooners come to town.
Yet - some perspective is still needed. Despite the outstanding win, the Frogs have lost 3 of their last 5, including a loss to West Virginia, and the squad may be without Micah Peavy for a fifth-straight game, as Peavy deals with a nagging back injury.
He’s key to the Frogs’ guard depth, and without him the Frogs force more onto Mike Miles, and are forced to give more minutes to Shahada Wells (which, absolutely, wasn’t a negative Saturday). Without Peavy, the Frogs depth is limited, and it’s no surprise the Frogs have, slightly, struggled without him.
Luckily, the Frogs have a 9-2 record in Schollmaier, and the packed house tonight, a “blackout” no less, should give the Frogs a clear advantage, and should keep the team’s confidence high all night.
TCU can find success on both sides of the ball, and the team’s efficiency statistics only improve when playing in Schollmaier.
Ultimately, it all starts on the defensive end for the Frogs, where they’re able to force turnovers and get on the fastbreak. TCU is the country’s 66th-ranked overall defense, which is even more impressive when TCU’s pace of play comes into play. TCU, and its opponents, play at one of the fastest paces in the country, yet the Frogs still don’t allow opponents to score much.
Offensively, a lack of three-point shooting could be a detriment to this team, but the Frogs are still ranked in the top 100 in most other offensive categories. Mike Miles Jr. is still making his case for All-American 1st Team (18.9 PPG), and Emanuel Miller (14.0) has stepped up big time, truly making a name for himself in the toughest conference in basketball.
If these two continue to play at the level they’re both capable of, the sky’s the limit for the TCU Horned Frogs.
Preview: vs. Oklahoma
Will the NCAA Tournament be a part of this team’s future? Time will have to tell.
Two losses in a row to Oklahoma State and Baylor have knocked worry into the Sooners, who are now hitting the road desperate for a win against one of the conference’s best teams.
The Sooners have only won 2 of its last 7, and with a 1-3 conference record on the road, confidence doesn’t seem to be too high headed into Tuesday’s bout at Schollmaier. And - while an ever-crucial Big 12 game is coming up tonight, there’s a chance OU could already be looking ahead to Saturday, where confidence will be even lower, when #2 Alabama heads to Norman.
But - this isn’t a bad team. In the 62-60 loss to Baylor, the Sooners never stopped fighting for the win, and that’s been indicative in the team’s other recent games. 4 of the team’s last 5 have come down to the wire, ending with a difference of two possessions or less. (OU is 2-3 in these 5).
At some point, the Sooners “luck” must turn, and we’ll see them turn some of these close losses into close wins. It remains to be seen whether that’ll be tonight, or not.
Oklahoma has no big injuries to report, as sophomore Forward, and bench-player, Yaya Keita was ruled out for the season with a shin injury in mid-December. Before his injury, he’d only played 3.5 minutes total, so the team’s struggles are in no way the fault of Keita’s absence.
Instead, the Sooners’ limited depth forces a ton of minutes onto guard Grant Sherfield, and forwards Tanner and Jacob Groves.
Oklahoma doesn’t score much, as the Sooners rank 277th nationally in scoring, but they make up for it with their efficiency. The Sooners have the 20th-ranked field-goal percentage, which is one of the only facets of Oklahoma’s game I’d be worried about as a Frog fan, and the key for OU will be three-point shooting.
They’ve found success all season long from the deep ball, but they haven’t faced a team with the length of TCU’s yet. The Frogs combination of length, and speed, will have to focus on getting out to defend the three. Sherfield and the Groves brothers can light it up from deep when they want to.
Grant Sherfield (17.0 PPG), leads the team, as Tanner Groves (10.5 PPG) is the only other Sooner averaging double-figures. Against the Frogs on the road, OU is going to need another scorer to step up. Could it be Jacob Groves, the younger brother of Tanner? Or will senior forward Jalen Hill provide the Sooners with the scoring burst they need?
Again - time will tell, but there’s no way the Sooners beat the Frogs in Schollmaier tonight without someone other than Sherfield or Groves scoring in double-figures.
To sum it all up - I think TCU will be on its way to a big win in this one, especially as the Frogs are riding the high wave of confidence after Saturday’s performance at Kansas.
Oklahoma hasn’t found much success in Big 12 play, and on the road, the Sooners’ struggles coagulate even more. Their offensive struggles are well-documented, and their trouble in grabbing offensive rebounds will only add to its issues, especially against Miller, Eddie Lampkin, and Xavier Cork.
TCU’s well-balanced on both sides of the ball, and the Frogs’ scoring depth has gotten deeper and deeper as the season rolls on, which leads me to predict, on top of the Frogs’ success in Schollmaier (9-2; better overall statistics), that TCU handles Oklahoma comfortably tonight.
TCU 76, Oklahoma 65