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Mountaineers Seek 12th Straight Win Versus TCU

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Team Stats

Points Per Game 81.5 87.5
Points Against 64.9 77.6
Field Goal % 43.0 50.4
Rebounds Per Game 39.8 37.1
Assists Per Game 15.5 20.0
Blocks Per Game 5.2 3.5
Steals Per Game 9.4 7.0
Streak W1 L1

 

 

Tip-Off: 9:00 pm est

TV: ESPN

Location: FT Worth, Texas Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena

 

The #7 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (16-3 5-2) head to Texas to take on the TCU Horned Frogs (14-5 2-5).

The Mountaineers have never lost to the Horned Frogs, leading the all-time series 11-0.  West Virginia’s average margin of victory against TCU is 13.2.

TCU head coach Jamie Dixon is in his second year in FT Worth.  He has complied a 35-19 record at the helm and has gone 7-16 in the Big XII.

In Dixon’s first year at TCU, he led the Horned Frogs to an NIT Championship, and as a result, received votes in the AP poll at the start of the season, placing them 29th in the country.

Riding the momentum built on the 2016-2017 season, TCU started the season 12-0 and had a win over then 22nd ranked Nevada, climbing the rankings to number ten before Big XII play.  They lost their conference opener to Oklahoma by one (90-89) at home, then bounced back with a win in Waco against the Baylor Bears, 81-78.

The Big XII has not been kind to TCU.  They were 1-3 in the conference heading into Norman to play Oklahoma for the 2nd time in five games.  They not only lost the game, but they lost their starting point guard Jaylen Fisher for the year to a knee injury.

Starters:

Senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky (6’11” 230-lbs) is crafty in the paint.  He finds the open spot in the lane for easy baskets around the rim and can score with his back to the basket.  He leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game on 60.5% from the field and can stretch the defense stepping outside to hit the three.

Senior guard Kenrich Williams (6’7” 210-lbs) is their most dynamic player, making plays on both ends of the floor.  Averages 14.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.  He is a good offensive rebounder.

Sophomore guard Desmond Bane (6’5” 215-lbs) has struggled a bit offensively since taking over for the injured Fisher.  He is averaging 11.5 points on the year, but only averaging 7.0 in the last two games.   He is their best three-point shooter (46.9%).

Junior forward JD Miller (6’8” 235-lbs) averages 10.7 points per game, getting most of his buckets within the offense.  Finds the open shot on the floor.

Junior guard Alex Robinson (6’1” 175-lbs) helps facilitate the offense, leading the team in assists (5.7).  Not a great shooter but will drive to the basket and find the open man.

Coming off the bench:

Freshman forward Kouat Noi (6’7” 210-lbs) provides the most minutes off the bench and averages 9.7 points per game.

Senior Forward Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed (6’9”235-lbs) averages 6.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He is strictly a post player.

Junior guard Shawn Olden (6’3” 180-lbs) playing time has increased since Fishers injury but hasn’t had much production with only eight points in the last two games.

TCU has one of the best offenses in the country, coming into the game sixth in scoring (87.5).   They have great spacing and off the ball movement, giving them great looks around the rim.  It’s been their passing that makes them one of the best in the country, putting them at second in the nation in assists (20.0), recognizing the open cutter for a high percentage shot around the rim.  They are first in the Big XII and tenth in the country in field goal percentage (50.4%).

Off the ball defense will be key for the Mountaineers.  They cannot allow TCU to run free on the offensive end.  It will start with on the ball defense, and then forcing them to work off the ball by not allowing them to make cuts and bumping them away from the paint.

West Virginia Forward Sagaba Konate will have a different challenge this game.  After defending against two of the top post players in the Big XII (Mohamed, Azubiuke), Sags will go up against a more versatile player in Brodziansky.  He will need to make sure he stays on his feet and not fall for pump fakes underneath.  I expect the Mountaineers to switch when he decides to go out along the perimeter.

Mountaineer forwards Wesley Harris and Esa Ahmad will have to keep Williams in check, not allowing him to crash the board, specifically on the offensive end.

TCU has struggled on the defensive end of the floor this season, which is uncharacteristic of a Jamie Dixon team.  Fisher was a good on the ball defender, but with the lack of size underneath, their opponents have taken advantage in the paint.

West Virginia does not want to get in a shoot-out against TCU, although they do want to speed them up, they must play tough on defense.

TCU does have some good ball handlers and will be ready for the press, but the continued pressure will get to the Horned Frogs.

They are not nearly as deep now that Fisher is not able to play.  If the Mountaineers play their game for a full forty minutes I expect them to pull away midway through the second half.

The question will be, Does West Virginia have the legs to play a full game after playing Saturday, and then travel halfway across the country to play two days later? The answer is yes.  They got some valuable minutes off their bench on Saturday against Texas and I expect the same from Beetle Bolden, Maciej Bender, Chase Harler and Wesley Harris.  Esa Ahmad comes off the bench, but still plays more minutes than Harris.

I’m going to take the Mountaineers in this game, but its going to be a tough game and I would not be surprised if this game came down to the final possession.  TCU is motivated to not only beat a top ten team, but to finally get in the win column against West Virginia.

I’ll take West Virginia pulling away late 87-74.

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