TCU dominated Arizona State 79-59 at a showdown at Dickies Arena on Saturday night. This game against the Sun Devils had pretty big implications. Coming off the first loss of the season, the Horned Frogs were looking for a big win to get back on track. Additionally, this game was a rematch from March, where the Horned Frogs battled the Sun Devils in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. However, that game nine months ago ended much differently than the matchup two nights ago. In March, the Horned Frogs won 72-70 thanks to a Jakobe Coles runner with 1.5 seconds left. This time around, both teams looked drastically different, and so did the final score.
Micah Peavy: The fourth-year guard played perhaps his best game of his collegiate career on Saturday. Micah Peavy put up 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in 29 minutes of action. Peavy knocked down 6-of-12 shot attempts and went 1-of-3 from downtown. He also added two steals in the affair. Despite not being known as a quality passer or efficient offensive player in general, Peavy has taken a huge step forward this season.
Peavy is averaging career highs in almost every statistical category. He’s shooting a career-high 55.3 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from three. The TCU guard is averaging 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on the season. His career-high 10 assists against Arizona State displayed his much-improved playmaking. Before this season, Peavy had never averaged more than 1.4 assists per game. Before Saturday, Peavy had never recorded more than five assists in any game.
The improved combination of scoring and playmaking has been a revelation for the Horned Frogs. After losing both starting guards, Mike Miles Jr. and Damion Baugh to the NBA Draft, a huge chunk of playmaking also left with them. Now alongside Jameer Nelson Jr., Peavy provides the Horned Frogs’ offense with bounds of playmaking. And Saturday night’s game was a prime example of what Peavy can accomplish this season.
Forcing turnovers: Another week, more opportunistic defense for the Horned Frogs. TCU forced an astounding 19 turnovers and scored 26 points off Arizona State giveaways. Only two of 10 Horned Frogs failed to record a steal. Four of five starters recorded two or steals against the Sun Devils.
The TCU defense made life tough for Sun Devil lead guards Frankie Collins and Jose Perez. The two guards recorded five and six giveaways, respectively. The Horned Frogs do a fantastic job of playing physically against opposing ball-handlers and trapping with phenomenal timing. The TCU backcourt is big, and they play like it. Despite Nelson Jr. standing 6-foot-2, he uses exceptional positioning and instincts to cause havoc on the defensive end. Nelson Jr. ranks fifth in the nation in steals.
Other than Nelson Jr., Peavy and Miller do a great job of forcing turnovers. Both Horned Frog players are extremely active on the defensive end. High activity pays off the Horned Frogs. Forcing turnovers leads to easy buckets and transition offense, both of which are necessary for the Horned Frogs to win games.
Playmaking: Starting with Peavy, the Horned Frogs looked like a different squad from a week ago. After recording only 10 assists against Clemson last Saturday, Peavy matched the entire team’s total against the Sun Devils. Besides Peavy, backup point guard Avery Anderson displayed his premier passing ability. Anderson recorded seven assists against Arizona State, his season high. Anderson showed why he is one of the best passers on the roster. Having him come off the bench adds a different dimension to the team when either Nelson Jr. or Peavy sits.
The Horned Frogs lack quality perimeter shooters, thus driving and cutting are ever-important in the half-court offense. When TCU gets out on the break, lanes are filled and passes are made admirably. But in the half-court, the Horned Frogs tend to lack versatility. In this contest, Peavy showed his ability to run the pick-and-roll. With Peavy now considered a pick-and-roll ball handler, a new facet is added to the Horned Frogs offense.
Slow starts: After quickly jumping out to a 4-0 lead, TCU failed to score another point for five straight minutes. And with 10 minutes to go in the first half, Arizona State led TCU 23-9, their largest lead of the game. Things looked bleak for the Horned Frogs as the offense appeared to be lacking throughout the first quarter of the ball game.
Oddly enough, slow starts haven’t been a common theme in TCU games this season. In the TCU win against Georgetown, the Horned Frogs went back and forth for the majority of the first half before ultimately leading by eight at the half. A week later, against Clemson, TCU battled the Tigers in the first half and even led for the majority of the half before a 36-35 deficit at halftime.
As we witnessed Saturday night, slow starts might be an end-all for the Horned Frogs. TCU does an incredible job of forcing turnovers and getting out on the break. Although TCU doesn’t knock down a high-volume of 3-pointers, they are capable of quickly coming back due to a fast-paced attack.
3-point shooting: Poor shooting has been a constant in the TCU basketball program now for years. And this year, it’s no different. The Horned Frogs did add guard Trey Tennyson in the transfer portal, but the rest of the roster remains iffy from beyond the arc. Against Arizona State, Tennyson knocked down 2-of-3 3-point attempts. Take away Tennyson, and the Horned Frogs went 4-of-15 from downtown. Although Tennyson is the best shooter, Nelson Jr. found the bottom of the net more often than not against the Sun Devils. He made 3-of-4 attempts from deep. Now subtract Tennyson and Nelson Jr. and the rest of the Horned Frogs managed one make on 11 attempts.
After a hot start to begin the season, Coles has gone ice cold from deep. In Coles’ first five appearances, he knocked down 10 of his 15 3-point attempts. In his last four appearances, the TCU forward has only made one of nine attempts from deep. Coles going cold hurts the Horned Frogs offense a considerable amount. While the rest of the roster has the pieces to pick it up, TCU needs Coles to make a three and score 12-15 points per game.
TCU gets open looks, but most Horned Frogs aren’t confident letting it go from beyond the arc. A confident Nelson Jr. would do wonders for the TCU offense, as two-plus shooters are necessary to compete. If the Horned Frogs continue to look shaky from deep, it’ll be tough to contend in a rigorous Big 12.
Play of the Game
Micah Peavy recorded the third triple-double in TCU history with this spin-move drive and dump-off assist.