Kansas attempts to bounce back from a rare Big 12 home loss tomorrow when they travel to the Fort Worth/Dallas/Arlington/Western Louisiana/Eastern Arizona and New Mexico metroplex to take on TCU, who has lost just once this season. Like Kansas, TCU has started off with a road win and home loss, and like Texas Tech, TCU has put up some gaudy stats based off maybe not playing the best competition around.
Let’s start with the offense, TCU’s better side of the ball. While the Frogs don’t shoot a lot of threes (34 percent of their attempts), they make quite a few, 42 percent to be exact. They also excel at scoring inside, making almost 57 percent of their twos. As is historically the case with Jamie Dixon teams, TCU does a nice job on the offensive glass (though not quite to the caliber of his old Pitt teams), ranking 55th nationally. Given KU’s defensive woes thus far in Big 12 play, this looks like a game where the Jayhawks will have to outscore TCU to win.
Fortunately, that looks doable. TCU hasn’t held an opponent under 1 point per possession in right around a month, which somewhat bodes well for the Jayhawks. Like Tech, TCU gives up quite a few 3-point attempts, but unlike Tech doesn’t have the good turnover rate or 2-point defense to go with it. Vlad Brodziansky is a good shot blocker, but not a great overall defender, and TCU doesn’t have a lot of good individual defenders around him.
Players to Watch
Vlad Brodziansky, 6-11 senior center
Vlad is one of the most efficient scorers in the country, making 68 percent of his twos, 44 percent of his threes, and 74 percent of his free throws. As I mentioned, he’s not a great overall defender despite his shot blocking abilities, but probably will bother the KU offense. He’s not terribly foul prone, committing 3 per 40 minutes, but some foul trouble for him will go a long way to helping the Jayhawks.
Desmond Bane, 6-5 sophomore guard
Bane is also one of the most efficient scorers in the country. He doesn’t shoot a ton, but probably should shoot more with these numbers: 65 percent on twos, 51 percent on threes. Combined, it gives him an effective field goal percentage of 71.3 percent, good for 8th best in the country.
Kenrich Williams, 6-7 senior wing
Williams has been incredible this year, shooting over 50 percent on twos and 48 percent from three, but his ability to attack the glass might be the most worrisome thing about him. He leads the team in offensive rebound rate, and after the debacle on the glass against Texas Tech, I could see him grabbing a ton of boards.
There probably will be a lot of offense in this one, as each team’s defensive weaknesses line up with the other’s offensive strengths reasonably well. One thing the Jayhawks will like is that TCU likes to play a fairly up and down game, which has suited Kansas this year. The issue, of course, is you run into fatigue that way playing only 6 or 7 guys, but I think the up and down nature will suit the games of Sam Cunliffe and Mitch Lightfoot more than a halfcourt game.
Bill Self teams have also been pretty good at making quick fixes when an issue has reared its ugly head the game before. I don’t think Kansas will dominate TCU on the glass or anything, but I would be surprised to see the Frogs grab more than 40 percent of their misses. Then again, I can’t see Kansas keeping TCU away from the rim too often. TCU also doesn’t force a lot of turnovers, but most of KU’s against the Raiders were of the bonehead variety.
The numbers admittedly say TCU should win this one, but I am going to go with my gut a bit and say that Kansas picks up one of these Big 12 showdown wins they seem to always grab at the right time, 86-82.