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Second Chance Points: West Virginia Mountaineers

The West Virginia Mountaineers knocked off TCU in Fort Worth earlier this month, ending the Frogs' 13-game winning streak. What did TCU learn in that contest that the Frogs can use tomorrow in Morgantown?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the elements that the Big 12 Conference prides itself on is its competition format - in Big 12 basketball, each team plays every other team at home and on the road. The league boasts that this double round robin format is the most successful way to determine "One True Champion." This gives each team the opportunity to make corrections and adjustments before the second matchup in the season series.

On Saturday, the Frogs will get their first shot at Big 12 revenge when they travel to Morgantown, West Virginia to square off against the same Mountaineers team that gave TCU its first loss of the season - a 78-67 decision earlier this month. The first contest between the Big 12 newcomers saw two teams looking to make an early statement after rolling through non-conference play. For the Frogs, the game provided an opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent and prove that their 13-0 start wasn't a fluke. For West Virginia, the contest in Cowtown provided the first real road test for a Mountaineers team that started the season with a 12-1 record.

For the Frogs, the game can best be paraphrased by famous novelist Charles Dickens: "it was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves." For the first 20 minutes, the Frogs looked like they were going to keep their winning streak rolling and break their lengthy Big 12 losing streak. In the last 20 minutes, foul trouble, mental mistakes, and a big momentum swing resulted in a double-digit defeat. The differences from the first half to the second are pretty stark.

A Tale of Two Halves


First Half

Second Half

Points Allowed

30

48

WVU FG %

35.1%

51.7%

WVU Pts Off Turnovers

2

12

WVU 3-pt Plays

1

6

Defensive Rebounds

16

7

Total Rebounds

20

13

Fouls Committed

9

19

Largest Lead

TCU +10

WVU +11

Minutes Led

19:02

4:53

Minutes Trailed

0:00

13:49

The first half certainly provided a foundation from which to build on, while the second half illuminated some key areas that the Frogs need to work on to come away with a victory on Saturday.

Full Court Defense

Under Bob Huggins, West Virginia teams have always prided themselves on tough full court defenses, and this was the case in Fort Worth earlier this season. The Mountaineers thoroughly disrupted TCU's offense with their stifling full court defense. On average, it took the Frogs about 6.1 seconds to get the ball across mid-court. Only once did TCU move the ball past the timeline in less than four seconds. The Mountaineers were able to force four turnovers and two five-second violations just through their full court defense. On three other occasions, the Frogs had to heave the ball across mid-court, only to turn it over on an ensuing trap that occurred.

One of West Virginia's biggest strengths with their full court press is that they can easily take advantage of teams that aren't prepared or aren't accustomed to facing that kind of pressure. With this being the second matchup between TCU and West Virginia, the Frogs hold a slight advantage in that they know exactly what they're going to get out of the Mountaineers' full court press. On Saturday, the Frogs will have a second opportunity to break this pressure. West Virginia commits so much to the full court defense that the Frogs should have opportunities in the paint to knock in some easy buckets, provided they can get through the press first. Smarter, quicker passes should allow the Frogs to open up the offensive a little bit more.

Keep the Pace

The TCU defense dominated in the early stages of the first contest. In the first 10:35 of the game, the Frogs' defense had held West Virginia to just seven points. TCU saw a 10-point lead before a breakdown in offensive production and fundamentals that began in the final minutes of the first half and spilled over into the second half. With less than five minutes to go in the first half, the Frogs led by nine before allowing a 14-7 Mountaineer run that cut the deficit to two at the break.

The opening minutes of the second half saw a breakdown that completely shifted the momentum and eventually cost TCU the game. With the Frogs possessing a 37-30 lead and all the momentum just over a minute into the second half, WVU forward Devin Williams drove inside, hit a shot, and was able to complete a three-point play. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Trey Zeigler threw the ball into the hands of WVU guard Jevon Carter, who dished it to Jonathan Holton for a contested layup that resulted in the second consecutive three-point play for the Mountaineers. In just four seconds, a seven point TCU lead became just one. In the three minutes immediately following the Frogs' 37-30 lead, West Virginia outscored TCU 8-0 while the Frogs turned it over five times. This sequence completely shifted all of the momentum to the side of West Virginia, propelling the Mountaineers on a 34-17 run to eventually put the game away.

"We didn't do the tough things to win like rebounding, taking care of the ball and defending. We know that if we would've, we would've won this game." - senior guard Trey Zeigler

On Saturday, the Frogs are up against their most difficult road test of the season. The Mountaineers are ranked 18th and have one of the best home-court advantages in the Big 12. If the Frogs can replicate the early game control that they exhibited in the first contest, it will be crucial that TCU maintain this style of play throughout the course of the game. TCU proved that it can dictate the pace of play, now the Frogs need to prove that they can do it long enough to come away with a victory.

Crash the Boards, Shoot the J

In the first half of the game in Fort Worth, the Frogs pulled down 16 defensive rebounds. On several first half possessions, the Frogs were able to complete quick outlet passes and score easily on layups and fairly uncontested jumpers near the basket. This aggressiveness both on the boards and in the paint paid off early, but faded away in the second half, as TCU was held to just seven defensive rebounds, opening the door for 13 second chance points for the Mountaineers.

The Frogs are going to need to keep their level of intensity and aggressiveness high for 40 minutes tomorrow, especially on the offensive end. TCU had early success in Fort Worth moving the ball around the key, but the Frogs need to increase their level of physicality in the paint. In the January battle, TCU shot just 11/21 and was outscored 40-22 from inside the paint. One of the major keys for victory on Saturday will be whether or not TCU can amp up the intensity on the offensive end, gather rebounds, and create more scoring opportunities.

Avoid Foul Trouble

Fouls dictated the first contest between TCU and West Virginia. Each team suffered from foul trouble late in the game, with three players eventually fouling out. Four key pieces of the TCU rotation - Kenrich Williams, Karviar Shepherd, Chris Washburn, and Trey Zeigler - each picked up their fourth foul midway through the second half. This led to a major disruption of the offensive and defensive side of the ball for the Frogs. Neither the offense nor defense could perform consistently due to the constant substituting and rotation shifts that occurred because of foul trouble.

Foulin' Frogs

Player

Fouls

Minutes

Kenrich Williams

5

17

Trey Zeigler*

5

33

Karviar Shepherd*

4

26

Chris Washburn*

4

18

Devonta Abron

3

5

Brandon Parrish*

3

26

Kyan Anderson*

2

38

Chauncey Collins

1

5

Amric Fields

1

17

Hudson Price

0

15

* denotes starter

One of the side effects of foul trouble is that the opposition is allowed the chance at easy points. The Mountaineers were able to attempt 28 free throws in the contest, connecting on 19 of them. More troublesome was the fact that West Virginia was given the opportunity to complete seven three-point plays in the game, with six of them occurring in the second half. This is difficult to do in pressure situations, but the Frogs need to attempt to cut down on the number of fouls committed, or attempt to commit smarter fouls that don't result in momentum-swinging three-point plays, like the ones described above.

Second Half Anomaly

Finally, it should be noted that the second half of the first contest against West Virginia is somewhat of a statistical anomaly for TCU. The Frogs allowed 48 points in the second half, the most points allowed by TCU in any half all season. To put that number further into perspective, TCU only allows 55.7 points per game on average. On two different occasions this year, the Frogs haven't allowed 48 points in the entire game. Also, West Virginia shot over 50.0% in the half, which has only happened two other times this year.

"When they hit us in the face in the second half, we lost our poise and we started to get testy with one another. We forgot about playing basketball and making plays." - Head Coach Trent Johnson

The Frogs led for 19:02 in the first half (the other 58 seconds the game was tied at zero), but only for 4:55 in the second half, as the game flow diagram below represents. West Virginia didn't even see a two-possession lead until about 12 minutes remaining in the contest. The Frogs' performance in the second half against West Virginia was unlike anything we've seen out of this TCU team this season. With that being said, it is hard to imagine this TCU team having another defensive letdown this weekend in Morgantown. However, as mentioned above, the Frogs need to play with the same level of intensity that we say for the first 20 minutes in Fort Worth for the entire game in Morgantown.

TCU WVU Game Flow

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Tomorrow's game will likely be another tough, physical, grind-it-out type of affair. The Frogs are going to have to capitalize on every offensive and defensive opportunity to come away victorious in the hostile environment. One other significant note: senior West Virginia guard Juwan Staten, who missed the first matchup in Fort Worth with the flu, is expected to start and see significant minutes tomorrow. Staten is the Mountaineer's leading scorer and assists man, so he should provide a boost to the West Virginia offense. The Frogs will definitely have to be ready for him tomorrow.

Having fallen to the Mountaineers already this season, the Frogs should know exactly what they need to correct and improve upon to change the outcome of the rematch. With a sustained high level of defensive intensity and improvements on the offensive end, the Frogs could see a different outcome than what we saw in Fort Worth earlier this month.