Kansas State Wildcats basketball: Kansas State will be desperately searching for a win in its Big 12 home opener vs. TCU
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Preview & Prediction: TCU at Kansas State

Kansas State will be desperately searching for a win in its Big 12 home opener against TCU, as the Wildcats look to avoid falling to .500 on the season.

Jimmy Goheen (@ksu_FAN) and K-State Athletics Communications help prepare us for tonight's contest, and I share my prediction at the end of our Preview & Prediction at KSO.

Kansas State senior Xavier Sneed
Kansas State senior Xavier Sneed (USA Today)

ksu_FANalysis: Numbers and insight from Jimmy Goheen

@ksu_FAN on Twitter
@ksu_FAN on Twitter

K-State faces Jaime Dixon's TCU Horned Frogs Tuesday night in the second game of Big 12 play. TCU is coming off of a home overtime win over ISU, with solid wins over George Mason, Winthrop, and UC Irvine during the non conference. The Horned Frogs' losses are to solid teams in Clemson, USC, and Xavier.

This year's Horned Frogs feature Dixon's strongest defensive team this far, notably ranking top 25 in both forcing turnovers and two-point defense. They also are a solid offensive team with strengths of shooting threes and hitting the offensive glass.

@ksu_FAN on Twitter
@ksu_FAN on Twitter

TCU had some notable losses from last year's team, including seniors Alex Robinson and JD Miller, transfer guard Kendric Davis, and Kuoat Noi who left to play professionally in Australia. Still, Desmond Bane was their best player and Kevin Samuel might be the 2nd best big in the Big 12 behind Azubuike from KU. Nembhard was a reserve guard on last year's team and a starter this season.

Dixon supplemented his roster with a couple of transfer guards who both start. Edric Dennis played at both Jackson State and UT Arlington, and Jaire Grayer was a multi-year starter at George Mason. The roster is rounded out by Top 75 HS recruit PJ Fuller, freshmen Farabello and Smith, plus Ohio State transfer SO and former Top 75 high school recruit Ledee.

Dennis, Grayer, Nembhard and Bane all shoot at least four threes per game, and Grayer and Bane both are hitting better than 43%. Samuels is a moster on the boards and shooting 70 percent on twos this season. Bane, Nembhard, and Samuel are all double figure scorers.

Fan's Three Keys  

TCU head coach Jamie Dixon
TCU head coach Jamie Dixon (Getty Images)

1. Turnovers

This is usually a key stat for the Cats. It's what the defense is best at, but K-State's offense has slipped to one of Weber's worst at taking care of the ball, and TCU features a defense that is Top 30 and nearly as good as K-State's at forcing TOs. Winning the TO rate battle will be a big factor in this game. Look for one team to force turnovers on at least 25% of possessions in this one.

2. Twos

Another regular key for K-State, but a big problem all year. Even though Samuels is the only starter over 6-foot-5, TCU has one of the Top 25 2PT% defenses in the country this year, and this has been a bad 2PT% team for K-State. K-State has had a 10% or worse differential in 2PT% four times this year, already, and lost all four games. K-State probably won't win 2PT% in this one, but the Cats must be within at least five percent of the Horned Frogs, or they are likely looking at an 0-2 Big 12 start.

3. Defend the Three

TCU is one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the country, and nearly 43 percent of their shots come from behind the arc. They hit 52 percent against Iowa State and are 6-0 this year when making at least 35 percent. K-State has come to rely on the three more as the year goes along, but the Wildcats likely aren't going to match TCU's shooting. Again, stay within range of the Horned Frogs - and maybe more importantly - keep TCU off the line and force two-point jumpers.

GAME NOTES: Provided by K-State Athletics Communications

GAME 14

KANSAS STATE (7-6, 0-1 Big 12) vs. TCU (10-3, 1-0 Big 12)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 >> 8 p.m. CT >> Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) >> Manhattan, Kan.

TELEVISION

ESPNU

Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play)King McClure (analyst)Paul Ervin (producer)

RADIO

K-State Sports Network

Flagships: // KMAN 1350 & WIBW 580

Online: TuneIn.com [free] / www.kstatesports.com/watch [free]

Satellite Radio: XM 384 / Internet 974

Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)Stan Weber (analyst)

LIVE STATS

www.kstatesports.com

kstate.statbroadcast.com [media only]

TICKETS

www.kstatesports.com/tickets

(800) 221.CATS [2287]

Gameday: $20 (bench & GA)/$40 (chairback)

Wildcat 4-Pack: $60 ($17.50 each)

Group (10+): $15

Kansas State fell short in its Big 12 opener by allowing a 12-0 run to end the contest at Oklahoma.
Kansas State fell short in its Big 12 opener by allowing a 12-0 run to end the contest at Oklahoma. (Matt Hall/K-StateOnline)

COACHES

Kansas State: Bruce Weber (Wis.-Milwaukee ’78)

Overall: 470-250/22nd season

At K-State: 157-95/8th season

vs. TCU: 13-4 (6-1 at home)

TCU: Jamie Dixon (TCU ‘87)

Overall: 406-167/17th season

At TCU: 78-44/4th season

vs. Kansas State: 3-6 (1-2 on the road)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

Kansas State (7-6)

G: #00 Mike McGuirl

G: #2 Cartier Diarra

G/F: #20 Xavier Sneed

F: #23 Montavious Murphy

F: #14 Makol Mawien

TCU (10-3)

G: #1 Desmond Bane

G: #2 Edric Dennis, Jr.

G: #5 Jaire Grayer

G: #22 R.J. Nembhard

C: #21 Kevin Samuel

SERIES HISTORY

Overall: K-State leads 16-6

Current Streak: K-State, 4

In Manhattan: K-State leads 8-2

At Bramlage Coliseum: K-State leads 6-2

Last Meeting: W, 70-61 [3/14/19 in Kansas City]

Weber vs. Dixon: Weber leads 6-3 [2-1 at home]

OPENING TIP

Kansas State (7-6, 0-1 Big 12) returns home on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to a surging TCU (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) squad in the Big 12 home opener at Bramlage Coliseum. The Horned Frogs are coming off a thrilling 81-79 overtime win over Iowa State on Saturday, while the Wildcats dropped their fifth game by single digits in a 66-61 loss at Oklahoma. Tuesday’s game will tip at 8 p.m., CT on ESPNU with Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play) and King McClure (analyst) on the call.

K-State has lost 3 of its last 4 Big 12 home openers dating to 2016, including back-to-back setbacks against No. 6 West Virginia (69-77) in 2018 and Texas (47-67) in 2019. The Wildcats are looking for their first win in a conference home opener since a 65-62 victory over Texas on Dec. 30, 2017, while the team is 4-3 (.571) in such matchups under head coach Bruce Weber. This will be the second meeting with TCU in a Big 12 home opener and the first since a 58-53 win over Jan. 7, 2015.

K-State is coming off a 66-61 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday in the Big 12 opener, as the Sooners rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to snap a 2-game losing streak in the series. The Wildcats led for nearly 34 minutes in the game, including 61-54 with 3:45 to play after a 3-point field goal by freshman DaJuan Gordon, but the Sooners ended the game with 12 consecutive points, highlighted by a 3-pointer by junior Austin Reaves with 1:39 remaining that gave them the lead for good. Oklahoma led for just 2:23 of the game, which was the fewest by an opponent in a win since West Virginia led for just 89 seconds in a 51-50 win in the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on March 10, 2017. The setback spoiled an impressive day by senior Xavier Sneed, who led all scorers with his season-high 22 points.

TCU has won 4 of its last 5 games, including impressive wins over George Mason (87-53) and Iowa State (81-79) in consecutive outings. The Horned Frogs’ 3 losses (Clemson, USC and Xavier) have come by a combined 12 points, including 2-point setbacks to the Tigers and Trojans. This will be TCU’s first true road game of the season with 11 of the team’s 13 games coming at home.

The Frogs are led by senior All-Big 12 candidate Desmond Bane (17.0 ppg.) as well as sophomores R.J. Nembhard (13.6 ppg.) and Kevin Samuel (11.7 ppg.). Nembhard is coming off a 31-point effort in the win over Iowa State, which included the game-tying 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in regulation and the go-ahead free throw in overtime.

This will be the 23rd meeting between K-State and TCU on the hardwood with the Wildcats holding a 16-6 advantage, including a 13-4 edge in the Big 12 era and an 8-2 mark at home. K-State has won each of the last 4 meetings, including a 3-game sweep last season.

The 3-point line has become a focal point of the K-State offense, as the Wildcats rank fourth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made (7.69) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (33.2). The team has connected on double-digit 3-point field goals in consecutive games, including tying a season-high with 12 against Oklahoma on Saturday. Although Sneed tied a season-high with 5 3-pointers, seven Wildcats had at least one trey versus the Sooners, two by Cartier Diarra and one each by Antonio Gordon, DaJuan Gordon, Makol Mawien, Mike McGuirl and Montavious Murphy.

NOTES ON TCU

TCU (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) enters Tuesday’s game with wins in 4 of its last 5 games, including a come-from-behind 81-79 overtime victory over Iowa State at home in the Big 12 opener on Saturday. Sophomore R.J. Nembhard enjoyed the best game of his young career with a career-high 31 points, which included the game-tying 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in regulation and the go-ahead free throw in overtime. Senior Desmond Bane and sophomore Kevin Samuel each added 16 points in the victory.

TCU is averaging 74.2 points on 45.4 percent shooting, including 37.1 percent from 3-point range, to go with 37.4 rebounds, 17.7 assists, 8.9 steals and 5.2 blocks per game, while allowing 62 points on 40.3 percent shooting, including 36.3 percent from 3-point range. The team is connecting on 61.9 percent from the free throw line. The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made per game (9.92) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.1) as well as assists (17.7 apg.).

Three players are averaging in double digits for the Horned Frogs led by Bane’s 17.0 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting, including 43 percent from 3-point range, and 80.8 percent from the free throw line. He also adds averages of 7.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals in 35.5 minutes per game, which ranks second in the Big 12. Nembhard is averaging 13.6 points on 39 percent shooting, including 31.7 percent from 3-point range, while Samuel is averaging 11.7 points on 70 percent shooting and a team-best 8.5 rebounds per game. Two others (Edric Dennis and Jaire Grayer) each averaging better than 8 points per game, as Dennis leads all players with 50 assists.

TCU returns 4 lettermen, including 2 starters, from a team that posted a 23-14 overall record and advanced to the NIT Final Four in 2018-19.TCU is led by fourth-year head coach Jamie Dixon, who has posted a 78-44 (.639) record, which an NCAA Tournament trip in 2018 and bids to the NIT in both 2017 and 2019. He is 406-167 (.709) in his 17th season as a head coach, which includes a stint at Pittsburgh (2003-16).

KSO VIDEO

HALL'S CALL: TCU 72, K-State 65

I certainly would not be stunned if K-State found a way to get this win at home and suddenly find itself feeling renewed heading to Austin this weekend.

That said, I would be a bit surprised.

I think this TCU team is better than the Oklahoma bunch K-State just collapsed late against. And yes, playing in Bramlage should be a significant advantage compared to playing in Norman, but I'm not certain the environment tonight will make much of an impact.

I think K-State is good enough to win a game like this, and the Wildcats were good enough to win in Norman last weekend. This group just has to prove itself in crunch time, however, at this point.

I think Samuels proves too tough of a match-up inside, and K-State falls in another close battle.

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