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Men's Hoops Preview - K-State vs. TCU Horned Frogs

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K-State returns to Bramlage Coliseum for a mid-week Big 12 tilt looking to end a 3-game skid, against a TCU team that is off to its best start in the Trent Johnson era.

Malek knows how to overcome bigger players - move the ball.
Malek knows how to overcome bigger players - move the ball.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats (7-7) return to Bramlage Coliseum for our conference home opener against the TCU Horned Frogs at 8:00pm CT. #EMAW is coming into the game on a three-game skid, dropping their last in a rout at Oklahoma State, a game which K-State led at half. TCU (13-1) comes into the game off a home loss to West Virginia, after a sterling nonconference slate.

Check out the Q&A sessions with Jamie Plunkett of Frogs O' War, here (FOW questions answered by BOTC) and here BOTC questions answered by FOW) for additional information.  Also check out JeffP171's recap of the Oklahoma State game.

Know Your Opponent

TCU is coming into this game 0-1 in conference after their loss in Fort Worth to West Virginia, but managed to start the season winning 13 straight, albeit against less-than-stellar competition. Whether or not that success will translate to Big 12 regular season success is unclear at this point, but TCU has reasons to think they'll improve upon their combined 2-37 conference record over the past two-plus years.

The Horned Frogs (Did anyone else call these things Horny Toads growing up? Or just me?) have an impressive profile from a statistical perspective. This crew is currently:

  • #2 in the country in Defensive eFG%
  • #3 in the country in Defensive 2PFG%
  • #9 in the country in Defensive Block%
  • #8 in the country in Offensive Reb%
  • #7 in the country in FTA/FGA
  • Top-50 in the country in A/FGM offensively and defensively, and offensive eFG%

The only things they don't particularly excel at are FT% (315th, at 62.9%), and giving up shooting fouls (FTA/FGA). They've only played one true road game so far, a 12-point win at Ole Miss.

TCU is fully healthy this year, and brings a similar mix of experience as we do to the floor. With their full compliment of players available to go, TCU is a pretty big team, and certainly outsizes us in the starting lineup.

Keep a close watch on:

Straight from the reptile's mouth, Senior Kyan Anderson is the key player for TCU. While not a stellar three-point shooter, the 5-11 mighty mite does shoot the ball well holistically, leads the team in scoring at 13.8ppg, in assists at 4.1apg, and D's up with 1.4spg. Other players are mentioned in the Q&A, but I'm interested in seeing sophomore Kenrich Williams and sophomore Karviar Shepherd. Williams is super efficient coming off the bench, averaging 8.4ppg, 6.6rpg in only 22 minutes per game. The 6-10 Shepherd puts up very similar numbers to Williams, in slightly more minutes per game.

Offense/Defense Strategy:

TCU plays mostly man-to-man defense situated in the halfcourt, but will set up in a 2-3 zone when a particular stop is needed. Their size allows them to protect the rim very effectively and challenge shots inside the arc. Perimeter defense might be a little suspect, as the Horned Frog defense of three-point shots and stirring up steals are very median.

K-State, of course, will be in its man defense. Solid team defense will especially important against the visitors. Keying on-ball defense will be necessary to limit dribble penetration from the perimeter. If the ball does find its way inside, look for K-State to double-team players in the post and middle of the lane; having weak-side defenders rotate to cut off passing lanes is critical for success.

Probable Starters

Kansas State Wildcats:

Nino Williams, 6-5 220 Sr
Thomas Gipson, 6-7 265 Sr
Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 205 So
Nigel Johnson, 6-1 185 So
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 195 Jr

TCU Horned Frogs:

Brandon Parrish, 6-6 185 So
F Chris Washburn, 6-8 240 So
C Karviar Shepherd, 6-10 225 So
G Kyan Anderson, 5-11 175 Sr
G Trey Ziegler, 6-5 203 Sr

3 Keys To The Game

1. Play 40 Minutes

Starting to sound like a broken record, but still looking for improvement in consistent effort at any level game-over-game. K-State came out and played 20 minutes in the first half against Oklahoma State, and took a lead into the locker room at half on the road. We've seen that if this team can put together inspired play for a prolonged period of time, good things happen during that stretch. Winning in this league - against anyone - will require good play for all forty.

2. Work The Ball

TCU is going to have a squad on the floor that is bigger than ours, collectively, at all times. Working the ball well offensively, probing and finding weak spots will be important to scoring effectively. We need to have a solid scheme to get big guys out of position for Gip on the interior (maybe by getting a high-post/low-post exchange). To find perimeter shots, exterior off-ball screens and constant movement or even schemes that cross sides will be needed to find separation from their guards. Moving without the ball needs to be quick, sharp, and intentional; floating around won't get it done. We have to score often and effectively, because TCU is a very effective scoring team themselves.

3. Defense

K-State needs to defend like their life depends on it. Don't just shuffle following the ball, but really protect the bucket. Being disciplined and focused on the defensive end is going to be needed to overcome their size, but it is doable. Just have to believe, prepare, and execute.

All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.