News, notes and quotes on No. 9 Kansas' matchup at TCU tonight at 8 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas, at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on ESPNU. This game is not being played at TCU’s home arena since it’s undergoing renovation (cost of $59 million) and should be ready for the 2015-16 season. Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center seats 4,750.
The Jayhawks (16-3, 5-1 Big 12) have won two straight over nationally ranked opponents Oklahoma (85-78) at home Jan. 19 and at Texas (75-62) on Saturday.
TCU (14-5, 1-5) is one of the most improved teams in the Big 12 after finishing a dismal 9-22 and 0-18 in league play last season. The Horned Frogs started this season 13-0 in non-conference action (best non-con record in school history) and have been in some close games in Big 12 play. TCU lost at K-State by just five points (58-53) on Jan. 7, lost by seven to Baylor in overtime (66-59) on Jan. 19, crushed Texas Tech (62-42) in Lubbock on Jan. 17, and lost another overtime game last time out at West Virginia (86-85) on Jan. 24.
TCU’s only big defeat came against No. 17 Texas (66-48) at home on Jan. 19.
The Horned Frogs, who are 10-3 at home, return 82.4 percent of their scoring and 82.8 percent of their rebounding from last season. TCU averages 71.2 points and has a +13.9 scoring margin, which leads the Big 12. TCU also leads the conference in scoring defense at 57.3 percent and is second in the league and third nationally in field goal percentage defense at 35.1 percent. TCU has attempted 531 free throws, which is also third in NCAA Division I.
The Horned Frogs shoot 46.4 percent from the field, 34.0 percent from three-point range, and 61.4 percent at the free throw line. They are holding foes to 30.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc, while outrebounding opponents 39.1 to 32.6 boards per game.
Senior guard Kyan Anderson leads the attack with 13.7 points per game (No. 7 in Big 12). He also paces TCU with 30 three-pointers, 74 assists and 27 steals. He leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 89.2 percent.
Senior guard Trey Zeigler is next in scoring (8.7 ppg), followed by sophomore forward Kenrich Williams (8.4 ppg, team-high 6.6 rpg), senior forward Amric Fields (7.1 ppg, team-high 60.0 field goal percentage), sophomore forward Chris Washburn (6.8 ppg, team-high 29 blocks) and sophomore center Karviar Shepherd (6.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
TCU is coached by Trent Johnson, who is 34-48 in his third season at TCU and 260-233 in his 16th season overall.
KU coach Bill Self has great respect for Johnson’s Horned Frogs, despite their 1-5 Big 12 record.
“They’ve been into games right there, and they’ve had some bad luck,” Self said. “Trent’s done a good job, obviously, and they’re much improved. Anderson still keys everything or them. We’re going to have to play a good basketball game.”
Self is not surprised TCU is much better this season.
“Trent's been coach of the year I think in all three conferences that he’s coached in,” Self said. “The guy can coach. He learned from Mike Montgomery and one of my old assistants is one of his assistants down there. I know they do a good job, so no surprise they’ve gotten better.”
Self is especially impressed with TCU’s defense and ability to get to the charity stripe.
“They don’t beat themselves. Their field goal percentage defense is terrific,” Self said. “But the big thing is you have to make plays to score against them. They don’t give you easy points. On the flip side, they’re averaging about 30 free throw attempts per game, so they’re getting to the line probably better than any team in our league with maybe the exception of West Virginia.”
CONTINUE THE MOMENTUM
Self wants to see KU continue its momentum after two straight wins and especially coming off a great victory at Texas, where the Jayhawks only committed three turnovers, including just one turnover the last 35 minutes.
“The biggest thing is in my mind that they’ve done a good thing, but they can’t negate the good thing by thinking about the good thing,” Self said. “They got to be moving forward and think next play and certainly respect the next play because we’re obviously playing a team that can beat you.”
Kansas is 7-1 all time against TCU with the series dating back to 1952, when KU beat the Horned Frogs, 68-64, on March 21 in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Kansas City.
Self is 11-4 all time against TCU, including 5-1 while at KU. Johnson is 2-3 versus Kansas, 1-3 while at TCU.
This meeting tonight will be just the fifth conference matchup between the teams.