The Jayhawks are looking to bounce back after a home loss to Texas Tech, but it won’t be easy against a top-20 TCU team in Ft. Worth.
No. 10 Kansas enters Saturday’s matchup with TCU at a crossroad. Here, the Jayhawks are presented a great opportunity to get back on track, but the difficulty of the matchup presents a legitimate scare for the fanbase that it won’t happen. Coming off a home loss against Texas Tech, the Jayhawks are in danger of falling under .500 in Big 12 play for the first time in 12 years.
About TCU: The Horned Frogs, 13-1 on the year, were one of just three NCAA teams to make it through non-conference play undefeated. Their schedule, however, was one of the softest in the nation among power-five teams. The Horned Frogs defeated No. 22 Nevada back on December 9, but the rest of their opponents were weak. They lost their Big 12 opener in a high-scoring shootout against Oklahoma by one, but they rebounded to beat Baylor on the road this week in overtime. Like Kansas, TCU enters Saturday’s contest with a 1-1 record in Big 12 play.
Game Info and Notes:
- Saturday, January 6th at 8:15 pm
- Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, Ft. Worth, Texas
- ESPN2 or WatchESPN App
- The Jayhawks are 10-2 against TCU in the Big 12 era, with TCU’s victories being the first matchup (February 2013) and the last matchup (March 2017).
- TCU beat Kansas last March in the Big 12 quarterfinal, 85-82, to snap a 10-game losing streak in the series. Svi Mykhailiuk fouled a guy in the corner on a three-point attempt with five seconds left in a tie game.
- KU is 4-1 in Ft. Worth, with the lone loss being that upset of the century game back in February 2013 when they scored two points in the first 13 minutes.
- Bill Self is 2-1 against Jamie Dixon, with all three matchups coming last year.
Horned Frogs to Watch
Kenrich Williams – 6’7″, senior forward
Willaims presents a matchup problem for Kansas, as his size (6’7″) and versatility (9.2 rebounds, but a 47% three-point shooter) could trouble a team that doesn’t have many mid-range defenders. He leads the team with 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but he can play all over the court, and he’ll single-handily be the reason a zone defense probably isn’t conceivable against TCU. Containing Williams should be KU’s top priority, as he’s as much of a do-it-all player as a wing can be.
Vlad Brodziansky – 6’11”, senior center
Probably TCU’s most well-known player, Brodziansky’s stats are unusual. He’s the starting center that averages nearly two blocks per contest, but he grabs just 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s second on the team with a 13.7 points mark, and like Williams, his versatility allows him to pop out on the perimeter and hit occasional three-pointers. From a pure skillset perspective, Udoka Azubuike should be able to neutralize his threat, unless he were to get going from the outside.
Jaylen Fisher – 6’2″, sophomore guard
Fisher was Dixon’s first prized recruit at TCU, and he’s delivered in his sophomore season with 11.3 points and 5.6 assists per contest. He takes care of the ball and shoots a good percentage from both inside and outside the ark. He doesn’t shoot as much as many expected him to, instead opting to defer to his targets down low. Devonte’ Graham’s quickness will be needed against a guard who loves to attack the rim.
Kansas 83, TCU 80
AUDIO PREVIEW (60:30 mark): LINK
Ok, so hear me out.
TCU isn’t a favorable matchup for Kansas. The Horned Frogs are a good three-point shooting team, an excellent passing team, and feature a handful of midrange scorers who were surely watching how Texas Tech nipped at KU all night and wore them down. However, I think that TCU’s impressive team numbers have been at least partially inflated by the poor quality of competition they’ve faced. Kansas is the best team, especially from a defensive perspective, that TCU has taken on this year. The Horned Frogs are coming off an emotional, overtime win against Baylor. How well they maintain that intensity against a team that should play a little desperate here despite the fact that it’s early January?
This is the exact spot that we’ve seen Bill Self-led KU teams waltz into tough matchups in for 15 years, and nine out of 10 times, they wind up finding a way to get it done. It’s been the story of KU’s run through the Big 12, winning exact games like this. If Kansas can get the win, they’ll come home and beat Iowa State and K-State at home to stabilize at 4-1, which would even out the Texas Tech game. I think Self’s team will be up for the contest, Lagerald Vick will step up in the middle of a defense that needs him to defend Williams, the three-point shooting will rebound, and the Jayhawks will get just enough stops to get out of Ft. Worth with a slim victory.