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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking TCU Pt. 1

A clash of champions as the defending Big 12 champs meet the defending NIT champs


Last Time Out

After three incredibly close defeats, it was Iowa State that pulled away with the win in the Big 12’s only game not decided by one point or overtime on Saturday.

The Cyclones were once again led by freshman phenom Lindell Wigginton in their 75-65 victory over the Baylor Bears. Wigginton, coming off a 27 point performance against Kansas last Tuesday, blew up once again for 30 points on 5-10 shooting from behind the arc.

Nick Weiler-Babb flirted with a triple-double once again, but it was Solomon Young that had one of the most important games in support of Lindell Wigginton’s scoring. The sophomore came up with 12 huge rebounds to go with his 11 points including a big three pointer from the corner late in the game.

Baylor is Iowa State’s best win to date. They will certainly have many more opportunities to record quality wins as 10 of their final 14 games are against ranked opponents including the 24th ranked Horned Frogs Wednesday evening.

About TCU

We heard all last spring how an up and coming team would benefit more from an extended run in the NIT instead of going one and done in the NCAA tournament. Well, TCU foiled those plans for that particular Big Ten school in just the second round of the tournament and now they are reaping the rewards of a NIT championship while their second round opponent is stuck in the pit of misery and will be lucky to receive an invite to their conference tournament.

The Horned Frogs, led by Brother Ali’s brother from another mother Jaylen Fisher, come into the game nationally ranked just two years removed from a 2-16 conference record. There is something in the water down in Fort Worth and fans can’t get enough Dixon Cider.

Many were shocked when Dixon left Pittsburgh for a hapless TCU program, but a chance to lead his alma mater and the fertile recruiting grounds of the Dallas metroplex were too much to pass up.

Since arriving in Fort Worth, Dixon has been dicing up opposing defenses and this year is no exception. TCU boasts the fifth best offensive efficiency in the nation. They share the ball, assisting on almost 63% of their field goals made. They shoot really well as a team from three point range (41%), yet just 35.3% of their shots come from long range.

It is vitally important for TCU to light up the nets, because their defense is....lacking. Their lone strength on the defensive end is preventing offensive rebounds. That is about it. They don’t turn teams over often and as a whole, opponent’s have recorded an effective field goal percentage of 53.1%.

For as improved as TCU is as a program, they come into the game at 1-4 in conference play, just like the Cyclones.

Players to Watch

Kenrich Williams is arguably TCU’s most important player. He leads the team in points, rebounds, steals and is third on the team in assists. The big guy stretches the defense by hitting on over 45% of his three point attempts.

Jaylen Fisher, a former target of Prohm’s on the recruiting trail, has cut down on his turnovers this season and it has helped him and his team. The sophomore is third on the team in scoring while assisting on 32.2% of his team’s possessions when he is on the floor. The kid is quick and it might be up to Wigginton to stay in front of him.

Vladimir Brodziansky, no relation to Putin, has been the mainstay at TCU during this quick turnaround. His size has allowed him to be effective inside on the boards and with his shot. It is his ability to step out and connect on the three point ball that sets him apart from other big men. The 6’11” senior draws over 5 fouls per 40 minutes so it will be interesting to see how Prohm rotates his big guarding him to stay out of foul trouble.

What to Expect

This isn’t your father’s TCU team. Hell, it isn’t your younger brother’s TCU squad or even last winter’s squad. This team is good, but like ISU they are staring at a 1-4 start in conference play. Could another couple of losses take the steam out of the TCU hype train?

The Cyclones are a heavy underdog in this one, but it is certainly a winnable game. Like most games in Big 12 play, Steve Prohm will need his team to be hitting on nearly all cylinders to pull off the upset. If Iowa State wants to get out and run they will first have to battle two of the Big 12’s best rebounders in Williams and Brodziansky.

The biggest key to the game is Cameron Lard staying out of foul trouble. Without him battling on the boards, this one will be tough.

Donovan Jackson stays hot on the road, Wigginton shows out again, but it isn’t enough as Iowa State drops a high scoring affair.

TCU- 89 Iowa State- 78

Pick Three

  1. Jakolby Long hits a three pointer
  2. Jeff Beverly’s streak of one straight game with a three pointer ends
  3. Brodziansky records a double-double

Game Notes

Game Time: Wednesday, January 17th, 8 PM

Line: TCU (-10)