Who: Texas Tech (17-9, 7-7) vs. TCU (11-16, 2-12)
Where: Lubbock, Texas, United Supermarkets Arena
When: Tuesday, February 23, 8:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network
Notable: TCU freshman forward J.D. Miller made quite a splash in his first career start in the Frogs’ last outing at Iowa State. He scored a career best 19 points and yanked down 11 rebounds. He’s definitely a player to keep your eye on.
Quotable: “We’ve tried to teach our players as my parents and my dad taught me-- moderation: don’t get too excited; don’t get too down. Don’t get too high; don’t get too low, because you’ve got a job to do. That’s what he used to say. You do your job; that’s what you’re called to do. I tell our players all the time, act like you’ve been there before. I’ve been there before; let me tell you how you’re supposed to act and how you’re supposed to respond. Like giving credit to your teammates and giving credit to the opponents. The more you give the more you’re going to receive.”—Tubby Smith on his philosophy of basketball and life
The TCU Horned Frogs are a schizophrenic team—and nobody really knows which version will appear on any given night. For instance, after surprising Texas 58-57 early in conference play, the Frogs went on a five-game slide in which the average margin of defeat was 14 points. Seemingly TCU was down for the count.
But then, in the Big 12/SEC challenge the Frogs bounced back with perhaps their best showing of the season, waxing Tennessee 75-63. Rather than build on that win, however, TCU lost five of their next six games, the only win coming by seven points over Oklahoma State in Fort Worth.
Most recently, the Frogs scored only 42 and 49 points against West Virginia and Kansas State respectively, but then exploded for 83 against Iowa State.
One cautionary note—TCU has shown the ability to play well on the road. The Frogs lost by only seven points to Kansas in Lawrence, and by only nine in their last outing at Iowa State.
A key systemic problem for Trent Johnson’s club has been too many turnovers and not enough assists. Only one player on the roster, point guard Michael Williams, has more assists than turnovers, and as a unit the Horned Frogs average 15 turnovers per contest. On the season TCU has 78 fewer assists than turnovers.
Neither are the Frogs a particularly torrid shooting team, connecting on only 41 percent of their shots from the floor, and 33 percent of their 3-pointers.
The team does have some individual talent, however. Malique Trent’s almost two steals per game is second best in the Big 12.
Brodziansky is an active and skilled player, while Abron has had some success against Tech in the past. Given the ability of that quintet, it’s a bit of a mystery as to why the Frogs are minus-two in rebound margin.
Texas Tech has been on a major hot streak of late, winning their last four games, three of which came at the expense of ranked teams. Should the Red Raiders knock off TCU, the resulting five-game conference win streak would be their first since the 1995-96 season which saw Tech advance to the Sweet 16. Current Red Raider Donovan Ham’s father Darvin was a member of that team.
Statistically, the Red Raiders are not a dominant club. Rather, they are solid across the board with few prominent strengths and even fewer glaring weaknesses. The Red Raiders have shot 141 more free throws than their opponents, connect on 75 percent of the their free throws, and block 4.3 shots per game.
But easily the team’s greatest strength is balance. Six active players average between nine and 11 points per contest, with Devaugntah Williams’ 11.1 points per game topping the list.
Toddrick Gotcher, who also averages 11 points per game, is Tech’s outside ace, connecting on 39 percent of his treys.
Zach Smith averages 10 points and seven boards per outing, and is the Big 12’s fourth best shot-blocker.
Tech’s next game after the TCU tilt will come against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. (CT).