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Monday Morning Point Guard: Inconsistency leads to an uneven week

The Horned Frogs took care of business on Tuesday but looked outmatched on Saturday.

Texas v TCU Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

TCU still owns a positive record in Big 12 play after the loss to the Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon. For all that it matters, all but one lower-ranked squad came out victorious on Saturday. The Horned Frogs are not alone. However, a win over the reeling Longhorns would’ve ascended TCU to the top of the conference rankings.

Both Houston and Kansas own a 6-3 Big 12 record, best in the conference. Next, several teams have won five games: Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, and TCU. The Horned Frogs are the only one of those squads to suffer four Big 12 defeats, thus placing TCU behind the aforementioned schools.

This past week wasn’t a total bust. The Horned Frogs knocked off the red-hot Red Raiders at the Schollmaier, not once trailing in the second half. TCU wing Micah Peavy came up huge against his old squad. The former Red Raider scored 18 points and went 4-of-4 from long range. Before more of the individual performances are solid in the introduction, we’ll move on to this week’s edition of “Monday Morning Point Guard.”

The Good

3-Point shooting: What once plagued the Horned Frogs has now turned into a strong suit as of late. TCU ranks second-to-last in the Big in terms of 3-point field goals per game, but they’re sixth in 3-point percentage at 36.1 percent on the year. This past week, the Horned Frogs knocked down 18-of-32 looks from downtown, an astounding 56.3 percent.

Against the Red Raiders, two Horned Frogs cashed in on four 3-pointers, Trey Tennyson and Micah Peavy. The Tennyson buckets were expected but also needed. The former Texas A&M Corpus-Christi sharpshooter has nailed 47.0 percent of his shots from downtown this year. Tennyson is the only Horned Frog to average more than one 3-pointer per game on the season. Conversely, Peavy’s were unexpected. He went 4-of-4 from 3-point range. On the season, Peavy is only shooting 30.5 percent from beyond the arc. And throughout his career, he’s only a 25.7 percent 3-point marksman.

After attempting 20 triples on Tuesday, the Horned Frogs only shot 12 3-pointers on Saturday afternoon. Against the Longhorns, TCU nailed 7-of-12 threes. In all likelihood, they should have attempted more. Miller, a 40.4 percent 3-point shooter, made 3-of-4 shots from downtown. Going forward, Miller should be letting at least three 3-pointers fly per game. Furthermore, Tennyson went 2-of-3; Avery Anderson III 1-of-1; and Peavy 1-of-2. Although the Horned Frogs prefer to drive and score on the fast break, it’s of the essence that TCU launches 15-plus triples per game.

JaKobe Coles: TCU forward Jakobe Coles had a rock-solid start to the season. At one point, he looked like the Horned Frogs’ second-best player. In November, Coles averaged 15.5 points and 5.3 boards per game. After a 12-point game to begin December, Coles went cold. He shot 40 percent or worse in every contest before injuring his calf against Hawaii on Christmas Eve. The junior forward was eased into Big 12 play but has since looked more like his early-season self.

In only 14 minutes, Coles dropped 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He also displayed his excellent touch, knocking down all four of his free throw attempts against the Red Raiders. His freebies also came in a clutch moment, both his trips to the line came with less than 20 seconds to go in regulation. In extended action (23 minutes) on Saturday, Coles scored 10 points and went 5-of-7 from the field.

Coles is essentially a patient, less-athletic version of Miller. Both players feast on face-ups and prefer to use floaters around the rim. Coles is well aware of his athletic limitations, as he uses a wide array of jab steps and pump fakes to score against more athletic defenders. However, his athletic limitations do hurt him on the defensive end. He’s likely best positioned at center, where he isn’t tasked with defending perimeter-oriented players in space.

The Bad

Inconsistency: The difference between both affairs was staggering. Although just four days apart, TCU looked vastly different in a loss against the Longhorns as opposed to a win facing the Red Raiders. On Tuesday, the Horned Frogs attacked relentlessly, drawing foul after foul. TCU went 24-of-32 from the line, scoring a third of their points from the charity stripe.

Then, on Saturday, the Horned Frogs only managed four trips to the free-throw line. The Horned Frogs only went once in the entire first half and missed both attempts. TCU looked more tentative playing Texas, passing, rather than attacking in 3-on-2 situations. The Longhorns opted to hard double ball-handlers coming off a pick, but time and time again TCU guards missed the roll man and swung the ball or turned it over.

TCU’s inconsistent rebounding was even more head-scratching. After crashing the boards against Texas Tech, the Horned Frogs looked uninterested in both offensive and defensive rebounding against Texas. TCU won the rebound battle, 34-27 on Tuesday, before getting destroyed on the glass, 34-21, on Saturday. TCU allowed the Longhorns to grab 14 offensive rebounds. The Horned Frogs were unable to keep Dylan Disu and Dillon Mitchell off the glass. The forward duo combined for six offensive boards on the afternoon.

Finally, the Horned Frogs struggled with turnovers against the Longhorns after playing a relatively safe game against the Red Raiders. On Tuesday, TCU only turned the ball over nine times, and no Horned Frog recorded more than two giveaways on the night. Just a few days later, the Horned Frogs turned it over 14 times. Although not a sky-high mark, the guard play was abysmal.

Tennyson and Anderson III turned it over three times, while Jameer Nelson Jr. coughed up four turnovers. From now on, it’s likely teams will double the pick-and-roll ball handler, leaving the roll man all alone. Nelson Jr. and Tennyson are completely overwhelmed when hit with a double-team. Anderson III can split double-teams and hit the roll man, but he’s also the most turnover-prone guard on the roster.

Interior defense: Center play has plagued the Horned Frogs throughout conference play. The triumvirate of Ernest Udeh Jr., Xavier Cork, and Essam Mostafa is viable, yet unassuming. Each player has several strengths, but also glaring weaknesses.

Udeh Jr. is athletic, coordinated, and active but lacks both offensive and defensive awareness at this stage in his career. Cork, is a reliable player, capable of making the right play, contesting shots, and finishing strong at the rim. However, he’s a stiff player, incapable of doing much with the ball in his hands on offense. Mostafa is a big body, a bruiser down low. Nonetheless, his size is also his downfall. Mostafa is unable to move his feet against perimeter players. He’s also a non-factor outside five feet due to his limited mobility and lack of ball skills.

Both games put the lack of interior defense on display. Texas Tech big man, Warren Washington, scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Additionally, Red Raider guard Pop Isaacs routinely got to the rim where he’d finish without a contest. Against the Longhorns, both Disu and Mitchell scored with ease. The duo combined for 28 points and 18 rebounds, going 11-of-20 from the floor. TCU has continuously made life tough for opposing guards but failed to do the same for opposing bigs.

The Play of the Week

Shoutout to both Cork and Miller, each player threw down thunderous jams that would’ve likely resulted in the play of the week if not for Nelson Jr.’s contested 3-pointer with the game on the line.