Getting to know: TCU basketball

TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) attempts to strip the ball away from Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) as TCU head coach Jamie Dixon, right, watches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) attempts to strip the ball away from Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) as TCU head coach Jamie Dixon, right, watches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) by Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo

There might be bigger games down the road, but Kansas coach Bill Self believes this is an important two-game stretch for his team.

The first of back-to-back road games will take No. 3 KU down to Fort Worth, Texas, where it will square off with TCU on Saturday. Five days later, the Jayhawks will travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia.

Saturday’s matchup figures to be an important contest for both teams. Kansas (19-3, 8-1 Big 12) is hoping to stay in the thick of the league race, while TCU (13-9, 4-5 Big 12) is looking to end a four-game skid.

According to KenPom, Kansas is projected to win by a 69-59 margin with an 81% chance of victory.

Kansas leads the overall series with TCU, 18-2, including 7-1 in games played in Fort Worth and 6-1 in Schollmaier Arena. KU has won the last four meetings and 14 of the last 15 battles with TCU dating back to Feb. 23, 2013.

Tipoff is slated for 11 a.m.

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BREAKING DOWN TCU

TOP PLAYER

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

In his senior season, Bane is leading TCU with an average of 16.2 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.

Entering the season, Bane was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team and he’s been as good as advertised. Bane leads the Big 12 Conference in 3-point field goals made per game (2.8) and ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage (44.2) this year.

It was even obvious from the start that Bane was going to have a strong campaign. Bane had four games of 20-plus points through TCU’s first seven games. That was the most 20-point games by a TCU player since Corey Santee did so four times in the 2001-02 season.

by TCU Basketball

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 21 — C Kevin Samuel | 6-11, 250, so.

Samuel has had a strong sophomore season, averaging 11.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for TCU.

This season, Samuel has been a very efficient weapon in the frontcourt. He is shooting 66.5% from the field, which ranks second in the Big 12 and fifth in the NCAA. Samuel’s 10 double-doubles leads the Big 12 and ranks 25th nationally.

In addition, Samuel is averaging 3.0 blocks per outing. Samuel recorded six blocked shots in back-to-back games against George Mason and Iowa State, becoming the first TCU player with five-plus blocks in consecutive contests since Derrick Davenport did so in 2000.

by Big 12 Conference

No. 22 — G RJ Nembhard | 6-5, 195, so.

The sophomore guard showcased his ability to take over a game in the Big 12 opener.

Nembhard scored a career-high 31 points to lead TCU to an 81-79 overtime win against Iowa State on Jan. 4. He drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game with 1.7 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. In the end, Nembhard scored 21 of TCU’s final 32 points.

For the season, Nembhard is averaging 12.4 points per game to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest.

by TCU Basketball

MEET THE COACH

The Horned Frogs are coached by Jamie Dixon, who is 81-50 in his fourth season at TCU and 409-173 in his 17th season overall.

ONE THING TCU IS GOOD AT

The Horned Frogs have done well on the offensive glass this season. TCU has an offensive rebound rate of 33.6%, which ranks 31st in the country via KenPom.

ONE THING TCU IS BAD AT

TCU is not going to get much production at the charity stripe on Saturday. According to KenPom, the Horned Frogs rank 340th in the nation with a 62.5% effort from the free-throw line.

VEGAS SAYS

Kansas is a nine-point favorite over TCU, which is right in line with KenPom’s projected score. Given that the Horned Frogs desperately need a win, and will be playing in front of a favorable home crowd, I’m taking the points. It's an important stretch for KU, but I have my doubts it will begin with a double-digit road win.

Prediction: Kansas 68, TCU 62

This year’s record ATS: 12-9

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