By Ken Cross
The TCU Horned Frogs rose to No. 10 in the AP poll this week, the highest in their history, and they are on a school record 17-game winning streak as they open Big 12 play at home on Saturday against another ascending team in Oklahoma.
Kenrich Williams averages a team-leading 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game and could not go due to a knee injury in the win over the Tribe, so coach Jamie Dixon asked more out of his guards, especially on rebounds as the Tribe shoots the three-ball consistently. Desmond Bane came up strong in that department with eight boards as TCU outrebounded William & Mary, 39-22.
“This thing with Kenrich, we actually found out at shoot around,” said Dixon, “It’s nothing serious from the MRI. There was discomfort yesterday and swelling and today it was hurting. He couldn’t have gone in any game today that we would played.”
— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) December 25, 2017
Williams likely will be ready to go on Saturday in front of a packed house at Schollmaier Arena, which will be an opener for a TCU team that was somewhat on most radars when the season began. Now, they are considered a major threat to Kansas’ 13-year Big 12 regular season winning streak. The Horned Frogs have extended last season’s five-game winning streak and NIT championship to a 12-game run over the pre-conference season.
Five Horned Frogs average in double figures, led by Williams, but 6-11 center Vladimir Brodziansky has picked up where he left off a year ago in shooting 66.7 percent from the floor with 13.5 points per game and 21 blocks on the defensive end. Jalen Fisher posts nearly a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while Desmond Bane has netted 27-of-51 triples and is shooting 58.9 percent from the floor.
“Everybody is talking about us in a different light,” Dixon commented, “We are pegged where we are pegged and ranked where we are ranked and it is what it is. I think we are good I know we can be better.”
Dixon is looking at the defensive end of the floor where opponents have shot over 44.5 percent from the floor. He underscored the three-point defense with Sooners scoring behemoth Trae Young coming into Fort Worth on Saturday.
“We just have to guard the three a little better,” he explained, “We had some break downs defensively with switches as well.”
TCU has an RPI of four and a kenpom.com rating of 19. The strength of schedule is strong as well with wins over Nevada, SMU, St. Bonaventure, and Belmont, in particular.
“Our RPI is good and we still have the game at Vanderbilt and every team in Power 5 has at least one high level road game,” said Dixon, “So ours is a little unique and ours is in January/February – we have 10 tough road games coming up. We have won by good margins and have been healthy until today.”
Fisher had a career high 21 points in the win over William & Mary. Williams has been the rock for the Horned Frogs and the way the team was able to create a chemistry without him is a good sign for Dixon. He should be back and the Frogs should be ready for one of the top showdowns in a plethora of conference openers across the nation.
“I think certainly we will have a big time atmosphere and a big time game on December 30,” noted Dixon, “That’s what we came here to do. It will be high level play with a packed house.”