Jan. 31, 2005
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Setting the Scene
On Tuesday night, the TCU Horned Frogs (13-8, 3-4 C-USA) take on the DePaul Blue Demons (13-5, 5-2) to complete a brutal stretch of seven road games that began on Dec. 9 against Kansas. Of the seven opponents, six made the NCAA Tournament and one appeared in the NIT last year, and they have a combined record of 90-44 (.672) this season, including a 61-16 (.792) mark at home. TCU is looking to snap a season-long three-game losing streak and get back to .500 in Conference USA play. TCU is playing its third road game in its last four outings. The Frogs are just 2-6 in true road games this season and have lost five of their last six outside Fort Worth, while the Blue Demons are 10-1 at home this year.
DePaul leads the all-time series between the two schools by a 5-2 count and has won three straight meetings. Last year in the regular season contest, the Blue Demons earned a hard-fought 61-54 victory in Fort Worth. It was the third straight game in the series decided by single digits. In the Conference USA Tournament, the top-seeded Demons pulled away for an 89-65 victory in the quarterfinals. TCU is 0-2 all time against DePaul in Chicago, falling 79-68 in 1993 and 71-65 in 2003. The Horned Frogs and Blue Demons began their history in the consolation round of the 1959 NCAA Tournament. The 16th-ranked Frogs defeated DePaul 71-65 on the strength of the play by All-Southwest Conference center H.E. Kirchner, who netted 24 points. Coincidentally, TCU was forced into the Midwest Regional's consolation round after losing to another future C-USA foe, Cincinnati, in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
TCU Individuals vs. DePaul
Corey Santee has averaged 16.0 points and 5.0 assists per game in four previous outings against DePaul. Marcus Shropshire has scored 14.5 points per game against the Blue Demons in his two meetings, both which occurred last year. Marcus Sloan has averaged 4.3 rebounds per game over four contests. In two games, Femi Ibikunle has averaged 2.0 points and 2.5 boards, while Art Pierce has averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.
The Most Recent Meeting vs. DePaul
The TCU Horned Frogs saw the 2003-04 season come to an end against the DePaul Blue Demons on Mar. 11 by virtue of an 89-65 DePaul victory at the Conference USA Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio. The final score was not indicative of the game, as the Frogs trailed by just eight with 7:21 to play before a 21-5 DePaul run to end the game. TCU, seeded ninth, advanced to play the top-seeded Blue Demons after claiming a 64-62 win over Marquette in the first round. TCU trailed by 13 at intermission before cutting into the lead midway into the second half. Nucleus Smith led the Frogs with 17 points in his final game in a TCU uniform, while Corey Santee (16) and Marcus Shropshire (14) also reached double figures. DePaul shot better than 50 percent for the game, including 56 percent in the second half.
The TCU Horned Frogs fell short in their attempt to sweep the season series from the Memphis Tigers by dropping a 72-57 decision on Saturday night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. TCU shot a season-low 28.6 percent from the field in the contest, and went just 6-for-26 (23.1) in the second stanza. The Frogs trailed by as many as 16 points early in the second half, but cut the deficit to four with less than 10 minutes left to play. However, the Tigers regained a double-digit advantage at the 5:00 mark and pulled away for the win. TCU was led by Corey Santee (16) and Nile Murry (14). The loss extended the Frogs losing skid to a season-long three games.
If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It
TCU, 1-3 this year in league road matchups, is now 6-22 (.214) all time in Conference USA road contests since joining the league in 2002. TCU's victories are over UAB and Tulane in 2002; Houston, Marquette and USF in 2004; and Memphis in 2005. TCU has had just one .500 or better league road record in the past 12 seasons, owning a 30-63 record (.323) over that time. The DePaul game is the fifth road matchup in the first eight league contests for TCU, all against 2004 postseason tournament teams. Of TCU's first five C-USA road games, four of the teams shared the league's regular season title last year.
Is It a Tough Road to Hoe, A Tough Row to Hoe or a Tough Road to Hold?
Whatever the expression is, the Horned Frogs have seven-game road stretch that rivals any in the country in terms of difficulty. Since Dec. 9, the Frogs have played at Kansas, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Memphis, Saint Louis and Charlotte, and play at DePaul on Tuesday. Six of the seven schools made the NCAA Tournament last year, while Saint Louis reached the NIT. In addition, those seven teams are currently a combined 90-44 (.672) overall and 61-16 (.792) at home this season.
A Lot on the Line
The TCU Horned Frogs have been to the charity stripe 547 times in 21 games and their trips per game average of 26.0 ranks second in the league, behind only Cincinnati. The bad news is that the Frogs have struggled converting the shots this season, shooting a league-low 59.2 percent (324-for-547). TCU has gone to the line an average of 28.0 times in its victories compared to 22.9 trips in defeats.
TCU senior Corey Santee (210) is the fourth TCU player ever to make 200 career three-pointers. He now trails only Ryan Carroll (233), Michael Strickland (231) and Bingo Merriex (217). Teammate Marcus Shropshire has made 122 threes to rank ninth on the school's all-time list.
We Want A Hundred
Several TCU players have closed or are closing in on significant milestones regarding the number 100. Against Charlotte, Marcus Shropshire played in his 100th career game (coincidentally it was his 50th career start). Meanwhile, Corey Valsin (98) and Marcus Sloan (97) are also honing in on the century mark in games played at TCU. Corey Santee has already played in 109 games for the Horned Frogs, but with 99 starts, is just one starting assignment shy of 100.
Needing Some Shots to Drop
TCU has not shot the ball very well in Conference USA play thus far, as TCU is shooting just 37.5 percent (142-for-379) from the floor and 33.3 percent (53-for-159) from three-point range. TCU's 28.9 percent shooting effort against Memphis on Saturday was the third lowest single-game percentage in school history.