If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s not easy in the Big 12. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the walls cave.
Take Wednesday night for example. The Longhorns rolled into United Supermarkets Arena sporting a very modest record of 14-7 overall and 4-4 in conference. They were also without their best player.
Tech had the game well in hand, leading by seven at halftime and building it to 13 in the second half. The Red Raiders led by 11 at the 10:11 mark of the second half and it was tied a little over four minutes later. The Longhorns had a five point lead with 1:25 left in the game and Tech looked like they had the life sucked out of them.
The Red Raiders managed to battle back and send it to overtime. In overtime, with the game tied at 71-71, this happened.
Tech was wrecking the Longhorns for most of the game. Texas figured they had the game won with a five point lead late. Then the walls caved in on the Longhorns.
It’s not easy in the Big 12. This week isn’t any different.
Another road game awaits the No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-4, 6-3) and this time it’s a short trip east to the town of the cow and a matchup with the TCU Horned Frogs (16-6, 4-5). Let’s take a look at the opponent.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs have struggled mightily since starting out 12-0. They are led by second year head coach Jamie Dixon. Last year coach Dixon achieved the second-largest turnaround in school history. In his first season, Dixon led TCU to a 24-15 record, an improvement of 12 wins from the previous season, and also won the NIT championship.
When talking about the key players on the team, the conversation has to start with the one not playing, Jaylen Fisher. TCU lost the sophomore point guard to injury in mid-January. Fisher was averaging 12 points per game and leading the team in assists when he was injured.
Stepping up in Fisher’s absence is 6’1 junior guard Alex Robinson. Robinson has averaged 36 minutes, 12 points, and nine assists in starting the last five games. On the season, he’s a 42 percent shooter from the field yet only a 28 percent three point shooter. For a guard, he is an embarrassing 58 percent from the free throw line. He is a point guard though as he leads the team in assists with 115 but also turnovers with 52.
Kenrich Williams and Desmond Bane figure to be the other starters at the guard position. Williams is a 6’7 senior who was named the 2017 NIT Most Outstanding Player. He leads the team in minutes (35) and rebounds (9) per game. He is second on the team with 14 points per game. Banes is a 6’5 sophomore who shoots an impressive 46 percent from beyond the arc and averages 11 points and four rebounds per game.
J.D. Miller, a 6’8 junior forward, is a nice piece player and should be one of the starters at forward. Miller is second on the team with 15 blocks. He contributes 10 points, on 49 percent shooting, and four rebounds per game in 22 minutes.
The player to watch in this matchup is 6’11 senior forward Vlad Brodziansky. Brodziansky was selected last year to the All-Big12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team as a junior. He was also selected to the 2017 NIT All-Tournament team.
He has stayed very impressive this year by leading the team in points per game (15), blocks (36), and field goal percentage (58). He also shoots 35 percent from three and 80 percent from the free throw line.
He puts in 27 minutes per game and is the only TCU player to start every game. Vlad is a potential problem for the Red Raiders because of his size and mobility. He is a steady worker who will get his shot attempts and cause you to foul.
Now we know a little about the opponent, let’s talk about the game.
I look for Norense Odiase and Tommy Hamilton IV to do a tag team on Brodziansky. It will be a challenge to say the least and will probably require a season best effort. TCU’s Kenrich Williams and Tech’s Zhaire Smith will probably see a lot of each other in a battle between two long, extremely athletic, guards.
The Horned Frogs have played pretty well as of late, going 3-2 over the last five without Fisher. They won both of their home games by a combined 32 points including a nine point victory over then No. 7 West Virginia. They are still a good team at times.
It’s a Big 12 road game for the Red Raiders. However, as our own Albie Shore pointed out, “TCU has the worst home court advantage in the Big 12”. The Schollmaier Arena figures to be at it’s full capacity of 8,500 fans. Judging by aftermarket ticket prices, I am estimating about half of those fans will be rowdy Red Raiders.
I think the Red Raiders will be buoyed by a big home crowd feel and a sense of urgency to keep the momentum from the big win over Texas. It’s tough to win on the road in this league but it is vital if you’re going to win the conference. This is a team Tech should beat. A team they need to beat. Prediction: Tech 68, TCU 61