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January 23, 2013

Full Court Focus: Previewing TCU vs. West Virginia

Well, it's already here.

The one-way-or-the-other game has arrived.

TCU started the season 9-4, but after losing its first five conference games, the Horned Frogs (9-9 overall, 0-5 Big 12) sit squarely on a .500 record. They'll have a chance to stay above the surface tonight against West Virginia (8-9, 1-3) in Morgantown, W.Va.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The Frogs and Mountaineers will be nationally-televised on ESPN2.

Here are some items to get you prepped for the game.

Last Time Out

TCU played Iowa State close - and even held a couple leads - before falling behind midway through the first half and eventually losing to the Cyclones, 63-50. Devonta Abron, Garlon Green and Charles Hill Jr. each led the Frogs with 10 points. Green, Connell Crossland and Adrick McKinney each had six rebounds. Tyrus McGee led Iowa State with 16 points. Melvin Ejim had 12 rebounds.

Taking a Look at the Mountaineers

Bob Huggins' crew played a not-so-close game at Purdue on Saturday, losing 79-52. The Mountaineers did, however, steal an overtime win over Texas in Austin on Jan. 9. They also played Kansas State tight, losing 65-64 to the Wildcats at home two Saturdays ago. Juwan Staten leads WVU with 10 points a game.

Three Things

1.Fix the Kyan Problem. Kyan Anderson hasn't scored more than 10 points since Dec. 30, against Mississippi Valley State, meaning he has been largely ineffective in Big 12 play, scoring just two points Saturday against Iowa State. TCU was short-handed as it was heading into the league schedule. Anderson's poor play on offense has limited the Frogs even more.

2.Avoid the 'Breakdown.' Trent Johnson called the Iowa State game a "carbon copy" of the Frogs' loss to Kansas State last week. He was right. In both games, TCU played good enough to win, or at least good enough to keep the game tied and within reach. But then, in both games, came the breakdown on defense. A dunk. A turnover. A three-pointer. Next thing they knew, the Frogs faced a double-digit deficit. TCU, with its limitations on offense, doesn't have that kind of margin of error, even if it's for a few possessions.

3.Make Free Throws. Self-explanatory, but more on that in a moment.

Numbers Watch

Only one number to take note of, and, man, it's a gem.

TCU has shot 62 more free throws than its opponents this year. Problem: The Frogs have made a Big 12-worst 58.9 percent of those attempts. TCU put on a how-not clinic at the line Saturday, making a junior high-esque 9-of-22 free throws. That's just 41 percent, and that's not close enough to stay competitive in the Big 12.

The Bottom Line

How good is this West Virginia team? It's not great. Bob Huggins is one of the more consistent coaches in all of college basketball, taking 19 of his last 20 teams to the NCAA tournament. These Mountaineers might not be that caliber of a team. But they've played Kansas State and Iowa State close, and they already have a win on the road against an albeit weak Texas team. TCU has a shot here. But they don't have margin for error, even if, as I mentioned above, it's only for a few possessions. If they don't lapse defensively, the Frogs will be in this game until the end. If they do lapse, if they do give up a series of buckets midway through the first half like against Kansas State and Iowa State, then, like against Kansas State and Iowa State, they might not be able to recover.


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