Game 28 – TCU at Kansas: Preview and Prediction

Fresh off a thrilling 67-65 win over Baylor on Saturday, the Kansas Jayhawks (24-3, 12-2 Big 12) have set themselves to potentially have a special night on Wednesday when they take on the TCU Horned Frogs (17-10, 6-8 Big 12). With a win over TCU, KU would clinch at least a share of their 13th straight Big 12 title – a truly remarkable accomplishment.

TCU comes into the matchup reeling, losers of their last three straight. It doesn’t get easier for the NCAA tournament hopeful over their next three games. TCU has to travel to KU, then has home matchups with West Virginia and Kansas State. A win in at least one of these games would greatly help out their NCAA Tournament chances.

Game Notes

  • Kansas leads the all-time series 13-1
  • KU has won the last nine in a row over TCU
  • TCU’s lone win came back in 2013 in the famous “Topeka YMCA” game
  • KU head coach Bill Self is 17-4 all-time vs TCU, including a 10-1 record while at Kansas
  • TCU head coach Jamie Dixon is 0-1 all-time vs Kansas
  • TCU is ranked 53rd on KenPom.com. Kansas is 8th
  • TCU is 50 in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 51st in adjusted offensive efficiency
  • Kansas is 218-10 at Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era, 5-0 vs. TCU
  • A win over TCU would clinch at least a share of Kansas’ 13th straight Big 12 title, 17th Big 12 title and 60th conference title overall
  • In the initial meeting with TCU back on December 30th Kansas won 86-80. Senior forward Landen Lucas finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds. Senior guard led all KU scorers with 22 points
  • Dating back to the West Virginia win at Allen Fieldhouse, Mason has drained his last 21 consecutive free throws
  • Mason leads the Big 12 in scoring (20.3 PPG) and three-point % (50.3 %)
  • Mason has led KU in scoring 19 of 27 games this season, including 15 games of 20 points or more
  • Lucas leads the Big 12 in rebounding in 10.8 RPG and is third overall in 8.4 RPG
  • Lucas also leads the Jayhawks in field goal % at 60%
  • Freshman wing Josh Jackson has notched a double-double in five of his last seven games.
  • After starting the season off horribly from three-point land, Jackson is 16-31 (51.6%) over his last nine games from three
  • At halftime of the game on Wednesday, Kansas will retire Brandon Rush’s jersey. Rush played for the Jayhawks from 2006-2008. He was a key member of Kansas’ 2008 team that went 37-3 and won the National Championship. Rush was a three-time All-Big 12 performer. He ranks 23rd on KU’s all-time scoring list and his 205 made three-pointers rank 5th all-time in KU history. His No.25 will be the third No.25 retired, joining B.H. Born and Danny Manning.
  • VegasInsider.com has the point spread as TBA

When: Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 6:00pm CT

Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

How to Watch: ESPN2 or WatchESPN

How to Listen: Jayhawk Radio Network or SiriusXM 84

TCU Horned Frogs (17-10, 6-8 Big 12)

After coming over from Pittsburgh, first year head coach Jamie Dixon has brought TCU out from the basement of the Big 12, and on the verge of their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998. As of right now, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has TCU as one of the last four in. They are still searching for a signature win and a win over Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse would tremendously strengthen their NCAA tournament chances.

The Horned Frogs are led by junior forward Vladmir Brodziansky. He leads TCU in scoring at 13.8 PPG. In the first meeting with Kansas, Brodziansky had a monster game as he scored 28 points and hauled in 9 boards. Kansas will need to find an answer for the big man on Wednesday.

This a talented, but youthful TCU group. Five of the nine players in the rotation are underclassmen. It’s a daunting task for any team to come into Allen Fieldhouse and walk away victorious, but its especially tough for teams as young as TCU.

Strengths/Weaknesses

Strength – Rim Protection: The Horned Frogs rank 38th in block percentage and 46th in blocks per game. Brodziansky leads the Big 12 in blocks per game.

Strength – Sharing the Ball: TCU is one of the best teams in the country at sharing the rock. They rank 17th in assists per game, as they average 16.6 APG. They also have two of the top 10 assist men in the Big 12 (Robinson and Fisher)

Strength – Fouling: TCU does a good job of abstaining from fouling. They commit only 17.1 fouls per game, which ranks 58th nationally. Because of this teams are only getting to the line a touch under 17 times per game — 40th nationally.

Strength – Scoring Defense: Dixon’s crew also does a nice job of limiting points, and they will need to against a high flying such as Kansas’. TCU is giving up only 69.3 PPG, which ranks 90th nationally.

Strength – Offensive rebounding: TCU ranks 36th in offensive rebounding %, as they grab 33% of their own misses. They also rank 74th in offensive rebounds per game.

Strength – Transition Defense: The Horned Frogs do a good job at limiting opportunities in transition this season, as they 37th nationally in that department. But when teams do get a chance in transition, they do a good job at cashing in. Opponents are shooting 55% in transition against the Frogs.


Weakness – Turnovers (Both Ends): TCU has trouble with turnovers, both causing them and surrendering them. They rank 205th nationally in turnovers per game, as they give up 13.5 per game. The Horned Frogs rank 153rd in opponent turnovers.

Weakness – Three-point Defense: This should bode well for the Jayhawks. TCU is letting teams shoot close to 36% from three-point land this season, that ranks 217th nationally. As we know Kansas is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation at 40.7%.

Weakness – Close shot Defense: TCU might do a good job of blocking shots, but teams still do a decent job of getting to the rim of them. 40.4% of opponents shots against TCU have been at the rim this season, which ranks 290th overall. Kansas is shooting 64% at the rim this season — 55th nationally.

Weakness – Defensive Rebounding: Kansas, mainly Landen Lucas, should have chances to pick up offensive boards on Wednesday night. TCU ranks 219th and 209th in defensive rebounding and defensive rebounding %. The Jayhawks were able to pick up 14 offensive boards in the previous meeting.

Horned Frogs to Watch

Vladimir Brodziansky – 6’11”, Forward, Junior

Brodziansky is TCU’s best offensive threat. He’s playing like an All-Big 12 performer, as he leads the Frogs in scoring at 13.8 PPG. He’s extremely efficient and effective around the rim: 55% of his shots come there and he cashes in on 71% of them. He’s almost automatic from there. Brodziansky is second in the Big 12 behind K-State’s D.J. Johnson in FG%. He’s also a crafty scorer. He can beat you in multiple ways, he can catch the ball down on the block or he can face up and take you off the dribble. He also has the ability to step out and shoot the occasional three, shooting 37% from three this season. KU had a tough time guarding him in the meeting in Forth Worth. They will need to do a much better job this time around.

Kenrich Williams – 6’7″, Wing, Junior

Even though he had a double-double in the first game against Kansas, the Jayhawks did a pretty good job of containing him as he was just 3-9 from the field. Williams leads the Horned Frogs and second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 9.0 RPG. Like Brodziansky, Williams can beat you in multiple ways on the offensive end. He does a good job of finishing at the rim (64%) and he also shoots the ball well from the outside (34%). Look for KU’s Josh Jackson to garner the matchup here.

Jaylen Fisher – 6’2″, Guard, Freshman

Fisher is the future of the TCU program. He was a huge get for Jamie Dixon last recruiting cycle, as he spurned schools such as Indiana and Baylor. Fisher has had a decent freshman season. He’s second on the team in assists, and he’s shooting 41% from the field, 35% from beyond the arc and 77% from the free-throw line. In the previous matchup in Fort Worth, he had a rough go of it against the likes of Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham. He had only four points on 1-5 shooting, but he did manage to tally nine assists. That game was nearly two months ago, so Fisher has grown as a player since them. In his last five games, Fisher is averaging 15.6 PPG, 4.6 APG and is shooting 51% from the field.

Keys to Victory

  • Hit outside shots: This is going to be a key to most games for the Jayhawks. They need to take advantage of TCU’s weakness of poor three-point defense. Kansas was 8-22 from three in the previous matchup.
  • Keep up defensive intensity: KU’s defense has been much better over the last two games. On Saturday I thought KU did a great job defending the Baylor Bears. They held Baylor scoreless over the last 3:15 of regulation, and in turn was able to come back and grab a victory. It would be nice to see KU come out with that defensive intensity and run a team out of the gym for once.
  • Find a way to get in transition: This will be tough because TCU does a good job of limiting opportunities, but Kansas is so good in transition that something will have to give. Other teams have shown this season that if you can get in transition vs. the Horned Frogs you can convert.

Prediction

Kansas 79 – TCU 64

First off, this games at Allen Fieldhouse, and as Iowa State showed, it takes something as fluky as 18 made three-pointers to win there. Secondly, I like the way KU is trending right now. They’re defense is starting to pick up and because of that, I think this will be the first time all Big 12 play we’ll see KU step on someones throat and just run away with one.

A few were worrying about Frank Mason and fatigue after the West Virginia game, but he surely put that to rest on Saturday. He played one of his better games of the season and took over in the second half. He scored 23 points on 7-12 shooting and also dished out 7 assists. Also as Scott Chasen of Topeka Capital-Journal pointed out, Mason played a part on 60% of KU’s 67 points on Saturday. I like him to keep up his hot play and help lead KU to a victory and a 13th straight Big 12 title.

All stats from: TeamRankings.com, HoopMath.com, KenPom.com, ESPN.com, KUAthletics.com, Big12Sports.com

Bobby Norell is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. View his archive, or follow him on Twitter.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I grew up a Notre Dame fan, as many of my family members graduated from there. I attend every home football game, and my fair share of basketball games. My Kansas fandom is something I brought upon myself when I was little. Around the time I was in first grade, Kirk Hinrich was leading Kansas to back-to-back Final Fours. I loved Hinrich those KU teams, and ever since they I've been hooked on Kansas basketball. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1. I'm excited for the opportunity here at Rock Chalk Blog. I hope to provide you with some thoughtful and informational analysis. Aside from my work here, you can catch some of my work at OneFootDown.com on SB Nation. There I cover Notre Dame football and basketball, as well as a little recruiting.