Jared Cunningham vs. J.R. Cadot -Cunningham leads Oregon State with 17.8 points per game and 2.6 steals per game on the season. Cunningham is the total package as he puts it together on the offensive and defensive end.
For TCU, no one has outplayed J.R. Cadot of late as the senior guard has pushed his rebounds per game average up to 7 per contest. Cadot will not be the only Frog to draw the assignment of guarding Cunningham, but to start the game, Cadot will most likely be the guy.
The key to stopping Cunningham is to make him a volume shooter. Cunningham can get his 15-20 points, and he likely will, but the Frogs must make him take 15 shots to get to that number. While playing on the road, getting off to a quick start will be crucial for TCU, and Cunningham must not get on track early.
Tale of the Tape:
TCU- 71.5 points per game.
32.7 rebounds per game
Oregon State- 78.9 points per game (10th nationally)
34.8 rebounds per game
Oregon State has not struggled to score much this season, but where they have lost games has been on defense. The Beavers average 78.9 points per game which makes them one of the nation's 10 most prolific offenses.
Such a stat would seem to spell bad news for a TCU team that has been bad at times on defense. The Frogs have gotten "big stops" in games this year but with the exception of the Virginia and New Mexico wins, TCU has not played 40 minutes of perfect defense.
The Frogs will need a good defensive effort to win tonight. The key to bringing a great defensive effort will be attitude, effort, and intensity. Are the Frogs unwilling to lay it all on the line in a tough road environment for a CBI championship?
If TCU adopts the same attitude that they adopted at Wyoming, Oregon State will win this game. If the game were in Fort Worth, TCU would have more margin for error. On the road, the margin for error is small.
Jim Christian happy to still be playing
After their victory over Milwaukee, Jim Christian said he saw several reasons why programs opt to play in these tournaments. Kyan Anderson and Amric Fields took their first charges of the season, and Nate Butler finally shot the ball well from behind the arc after a prolonged slump.
TCU has had an extra week of practice to improve and to continue to build a program. Schools such as Duke, Mizzouri, Texas Tech, and Texas are now long done with their season. A win would allow Christian and his staff even more time with his team.
At the same time, a win would be big for TCU's mental mindset. While building a program, winning at home must come first, and winning on the road must come second. The Frogs can continue to learn how to win on the road tonight as the game tips off at 9 pm.
3 keys to game
1. Attitude and effort-To win on the road against one of the country's best offensive teams takes attitude and effort, and intensity on the defensive end. Frogs must commit as a unit to wanting to win this game. There will be nothing easy about winning in Corvallis.
2. Keep Craig on floor-TCU is a different team when Craig Williams can stay out of foul trouble and contribute on the offensive end of the floor. Williams must stay out of foul trouble tonight because TCU will need a good night from several of their key offensive players to win.
3. Win the battle of the glass-TCU is 10-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent. Winning the battle of the glass was key in the conference tournament vs. Colorado State, and Pierce Hornung almost single-handedly beat the Frogs on the glass. Eric Moreland leads Oregon State in rebounding. TCU must keep he and his teammate Joe Burton off the glass.
Cadot is Key
No Frog has played with more of a sense of urgency that J.R. Cadot. The senior has scored in double-figures in 10 of his last 11 games. He is averaging 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds over the last six games.
Cadot must be TCU's renaissance-man one more time in this matchup. The native of the Bahamas will need another A-game for TCU to win against the team that is #10 in the nation in scoring, #19 in assists, #28 in turnover-margin, #31 in field-goal percentage, and #43 in blocked shots.