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TCU Preview

NCAA Basketball: North Dakota State at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If you want the good news, Kansas doesn’t actually have much to respond to, if you believe in shot quality:

But given KU’s rather lazy effort in the second half, they’ll no doubt want to show that Saturday was an all around fluke when they travel to take on a TCU team who has been a bit better than I expected, with a narrow loss to Oklahoma as their only Big 12 blemish.

Offensively, TCU has actually adjusted pretty well to the loss of Desmond Bane, with the offense scoring the 3rd most points per possession in Big 12 play so far. Some of that of course is due to the quality of opponent, but it’s still impressive for a team who was as bad as they were offensively last season to replace a first round pick and also get better on that end of the floor.

They have also done it by being relatively average across the board, but that all adds up to being pretty good. They don’t rank top 50 nationally in any one statistic, which means there is no one single thing for the Jayhawks to focus on. However, one big thing to worry about will be their shooting prowess from deep: four TCU rotation members shoot at least 38 percent from three.

Defensively, the Frogs have been pretty good overall, but not so much in their Big 12 games. Big 12 opponents are scoring about 1.06 points per trip against them. One good bit of news for Kansas is that TCU has been extremely poor at forcing turnovers thus far this season. On the flipside, they’ve been good at both limiting 3-point attempts and have been good interior defenders, and while their block rate may be inflated by opponent quality, Kansas hasn’t exactly been the most above the rim team this season. So, the Jayhawks could run into some issues inside the arc.

Players to Watch

RJ Nembhard, junior guard

Nembhard has turned himself into a pretty good Big 12 point guard, and is shooting near 40 percent from three and 55 percent inside the arc. He also has moved the ball really well and drawn quite a few fouls as well.

Mike Miles, 6-1 freshman guard

Miles has been the team’s best shooter at 43 percent from deep so far and has been a pretty good passer himself. He hasn’t been a terribly good defender thus far but as a smaller freshman it likely will take awhile.

Kevin Samuel, 6-11 junior forward

No Big 12 opponent is likely to be happier to see Udoka Azubuike out of Lawrence than Samuel, who had two nightmare matchups against the Jayhawks despite pretty good numbers overall last season. He hasn’t done a ton of shooting so far this season, but is scoring effectively when he does, shooting 65 percent on twos. He also has been an ace rebounder, and will be a difficult matchup for the Jayhawks inside. Although, like with West Virginia, David McCormack may enjoy having a more traditional big man to defend.

The Pick

Kansas is currently favored by 5. In some ways I think Kansas can match up with TCU’s strengths a bit. They should be able to limit TCU’s 3-point attempts, and because the Frogs employ a more traditional big man I think they’ll have a few more issues scoring inside. I am a little worried about how Kansas will score, but I think they’ll be able to get the win. I’ll take them to cover as well, 68-61.