Preview: WVU - TCU

Preview: WVU - TCU

TCU is trying to escape the Big 12 cellar. West Virginia is heading in that direction. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to play for (or avoid) as the two teams meet in Morgantown on Wednesday evening.

SCOUTING THE HORNED FROGS

Offense isn't a strong suit for the Horned Frogs, who use a slower pace and good defense to hang in some games. That hasn't been good enough to get close to a Big 12 win, however, as their closest loss has been by nine points. Given West Virginia's scoring woes, however, they have to think they have a shot at recording their first-ever win in the league.

Sophomore guard Kyan Anderson (5-11) has started every game this year, and is TCU's leader in five major statistical categories. He averages 11.4 points and 3.4 assist per outing, and is the Frogs' focal point on offense. He's backstopped by swing guard\forward Garlon Green (Sr., 6-7) who drops in nearly 11 points and adds 4.5 rebounds per game. Anderson and Green are the only two players to start every game this year.

Senior Nate Butler Lind and freshman Charles Hill round out the perimeter starters. Butler Lind (6-6) scores 4.5 points, while Hill averaged 3.7 points per outing. Hill played just once in TCU's first seven games before recently moving into the starting lineup.

Forward Devonta Abran (So., 6-8) is the lone starter to patrol the paint. He averages 7.2 points per outing and leads the team with 5.4 rebounds per game. He's backed up by Connell Crossland (Jr., 6-7), who adds almost five points and five assists in more than 20 minutes of action per game, and Adrick McKinney (Sr, 6-8) who who leads the team in rebounding with 6.9 per game. He also is the best frontcourt scorer, averaging 7.8.

Jarvis Ray (Jr, 6-6) and Clyde Smith III (Fr., 6-2) make up the rest of the backcourt rotation. Ray is a threat to score, averaging 6.2 per appearance, while Smith is more of a minutes eater, as he shoots just 20% from the field.

Overall, there's just not much good about TCU on offense. It doesn't shoot the ball well, makes just 59% of its free throws and is -69 in assists to turnovers. All of that leads to an anemic 54.8 points per game average, which simply isn't good enough to win many games.

OUTLOOK

TCU relies on defense and a slow game pace to try to keep contests tight. That isn't enough to overcome most Big 12 foes, but it could be against a West Virginia team that seems disinterested and unmotivated during its initial season in the league.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Wed 1/23
7:30 PM

WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 8-9, 1-3
TCU 9-9, 0-5
Series
First Meeting
TV
ESPN2
Sirius/XM: 113/None
RPI
WVU - 93
TCU - 221
The Horned Frogs do put forth good effort on defense, and are holding foes to just 41% shooting from the field. They get a few steals and battle on the boards despite running a smaller lineup for some stretches, but they also hold the score down by working the shot clock. TCU has taken just 875 shots this year, and while some of that low total is due to its horrendous turnover total of 251, it's also clear that first year head coach Trent Johnson is trying to keep his teams in the game by limiting the number of shots per contest. Opponents are averaging just 50 attempts per game, so despite making 41.4% of those chances they are outscoring the Horned Frogs by fewer than two points per game.

To counter this, West Virginia will obviously try to increase the tempo, but it has to temper that with better decision-making than it has shown to date. It can't afford to throw away possessions with turnovers in transition. It needs to maximize its chances and get as many shots as possible, owing both to its own poor shooting as well as to TCU's strategy of slowing the game and limiting opposing shots.

The Mountaineers must also play defense for the entire length of ths shot clock -- another issue that has bedeviled it this year. TCU hasn't been great at creating early shot opportunities, so it is patient enough to run through one or more offensive sets and use most of the time available before getting a shot away. West Virginia must recognize that, and not let up if it forced the Frogs to reset. Giving up an open shot as the clock winds down is, in some ways, even worse than yielding an easy try early in a possession -- and the resulting demoralization is something that WVU doesn't need at this point.

All the tactics talk is nice, but in reality this game probably comes down to who wants it more. That's cliche to the extreme, but for two squads that will likely end up at or near the bottom of the league, it's about the only item left to look at. TCU is obviously in rebuilding mode, while West Virginia's state of mind and competitive nature is quite rightly under serious question. Which team has the will to play hard when no major tangible rewards are waiting? That's the one that wins this contest.

FAST BREAKS

West Virginia has 12 different players that have started at least two games this year. TCU has featured nine different starting lineups to date. You need look no further for an indicator of how the season has unfolded for both teams.

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West Virginia has a 125-31 (.807) record against teams in their first visit to the Coliseum.

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TCU has played in five diffferent leagues over the 102 years of basketball comeptition. The Horned Frogs have playind in the Southwest Conference 1923-1996), Western Athletic Conference (1996-2001), Conference USA (2001-05) and Mountain West (2005-2012). The WAC is the only league in which TCU recorded a winning conference record.

* * *

With a win, Bob Huggins, would move into a tie with Don Haskins for 19th place on the NCAA Division I all-time winningest coaches list. Huggins' record now stands at 718-273 in his 31st season as a head coach. He is one of just 20 Division I head coaches with 700 career wins.

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