Getting to know: TCU basketball

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

After losses last weekend, Kansas coach Bill Self and TCU coach Jamie Dixon both said their teams “got what we deserved.” Now both teams will try to bounce back against each other.

The Jayhawks will try to remain in at least in a tie atop the Big 12 standings when they play host to TCU at 8 p.m. Tuesday (TV: ESPN) at Allen Fieldhouse. Both Kansas and Texas Tech have 7-3 records in Big 12 play while West Virginia is 7-4.

The Horned Frogs (16-7, 4-6 Big 12) are without starting guard Jaylen Fisher, who suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and underwent season-ending surgery in the middle of January. They’ve struggled to find consistency without Fisher, posting a 3-3 record.

When the two teams met on Jan. 6 in Fort Worth, the Jayhawks (18-5, 7-3) held off TCU down the stretch with key free throws by Devonte’ Graham.

“We have to do a better job, obviously, defending and rebounding,” Self said. “Rebounding is obviously a huge, huge thing with us. If you’re going to play as small as we play, you’ve got to play tougher. We’ve been saying that all year long.”

Fun fact: TCU is looking for its second win ever against a ranked team on the road. The Horned Frogs have a 1-77 all-time road record vs. teams in the AP Top 25 with their lone win on Jan. 19, 1998 at No. 24 Hawai’i.

Fun fact II: In their last nine games, the Horned Frogs have outscored or tied each opponent in the second half. It’s only resulted in a 3-6 record.

Series history: Kansas leads 15-2. The Horned Frogs have an 0-6 record inside of Allen Fieldhouse.

BREAKING DOWN TCU

TOP PLAYER

No. 34 — G Kenrich Williams | 6-7, 210, sr.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) compete for a rebound with TCU guard Kenrich Williams (34) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) compete for a rebound with TCU guard Kenrich Williams (34) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Williams ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding, averaging 13.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in conference play. He’s recorded four double-doubles against Big 12 opponents, shooting 34.1 percent from the 3-point line.

A pesky defender, the fifth-year senior from Waco, Texas, has snagged 14 steals in conference play. He missed the entire 2015-16 season because of a knee injury. Out of high school, Williams had zero Div. I basketball offers. He opted to play his freshman season at New Mexico Junior College before transferring to TCU.

Against KU this season: 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists and one steal in 32 minutes.

  • “His offensive numbers have gotten better as we’ve gotten the understanding of where he needs to be and what positions to put him in,” coach Jamie Dixon said.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 10 — F Vlad Brodziansky | 6-11, 230, fr.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Brodziansky (pronounced: BROAD-Zee-ON-ski) has shined in Big 12 play with a team-best 17.3 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting and an 88.1 percent mark at the free-throw line. From Slovakia, he’s shooting 71 percent at the rim this season, according to hoop-math.com. He leads the team with 44 blocks.

Against KU this season: Scored 20 points (10 of 10 at the free-throw line) with five rebounds, two assists and one block.

No. 1 — G Desmond Bane | 6-5, 215, so.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

A dangerous 3-point shooter, Bane is averaging 10.7 points while connecting on 44.4 percent of his attempts from behind the arc in conference play. He’s added 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He’s made at least one 3-pointer in 15 of his last 16 games.

Against KU this season: Made 3 of 7 shots from the 3-point line, scoring 13 points with four rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes.

No. 25 — G Alex Robinson | 6-1, 175, jr.

Wanting a foul called on a three point shot, TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) throws his hands in the air during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Wanting a foul called on a three point shot, TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) throws his hands in the air during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Handling the majority of point guard duties with Jaylen Fisher out, Robinson has helped the offense with 7.0 assists per game in Big 12 play. An athletic player with a 44-inch vertical, Robinson is averaging 8.6 points against conference opponents but struggled at the free-throw line (48 percent). He had 17 assists, a Big 12 record, against Iowa State in January.

Against KU this season: In 32 minutes off of the bench, he had two points (1-of-8 shooting), seven assists, three turnovers and two rebounds.

No. 12 — F Kouat Noi | 6-7, 210, r-fr.

From Australia, Noi (pronounced: KWOT NOY) has transformed into the team’s top 3-point threat in Big 12 play. Noi is shooting 47.7 percent from deep on 44 attempts, averaging 10.7 points off of the bench. “I’d be lying if I expected him to lead the conference in that aspect,” coach Jamie Dixon said. He’s added 3.4 rebounds per game.

Against KU this season: Scored six points off of the bench in 14 minutes, making 3 of his 6 shots to go along with four rebounds.

ONE THING TCU DOES WELL

In a conference with plenty of talented offensive teams, nobody shoots better than TCU. The Horned Frogs, averaging 84.5 points against Big 12 opponents, rank 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (50.4 percent) and 13th from the 3-point line (41.2 percent). In Big 12 play, they average five more assists than any other team.

ONE AREA TCU STRUGGLES

As well as the Horned Frogs shoot 3-pointers, they allow opposing teams to shoot even better from behind the arc. TCU does a decent job of limiting the amount of attempts from other teams, but in Big 12 play, opponents have connected on 43.1 percent of their 3s. In TCU’s last seven games, only one team (West Virginia) shot worse than 42 percent.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

TCU signed four players in November’s early signing period. Kaden Archie, a 6-6 small forward, and Kendric Davis, a 5-11 point guard, are both ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals and considered four-star prospects.

The Horned Frogs added Russell Barlow, a 6-10 center with a 7-foot wingspan and Angus McWilliam, 6-11 center/forward from New Zealand. McWilliam actually joined the team in early January and has been practicing but will redshirt this semester.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 7.5. A lot of eyes will be on the Jayhawks after Bill Self blasted his team’s effort and announced a change to the starting lineup. I expect KU to improve its rebounding. On the other side, TCU is a desperate team trying to improve after losing three of its last five games. My guess is KU will have a strong start, but TCU will fight back at the start of the second half and keep it close.

My prediction: Kansas 82, TCU 77. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 12-10.

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