Feb. 22, 2005
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Setting the Scene
The TCU Horned Frogs (16-10, 6-6 C-USA) will look to move back over the .500 mark in Conference USA play when the team visits the Tulane Green Wave (9-14, 3-9) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Horned Frogs are just 2-8 this season on the road and 2-4 all time at Tulane. The two teams are even at six games apiece in the all-time series and neither team has earned a season sweep since the two became league partners in 2002. TCU won the earlier meeting this year by a 73-62 count in Fort Worth. TCU enters the contest having won three of its last four games, while Tulane has dropped four of its previous five.
After a 73-62 victory on Jan. 12, TCU evened the all-time series with Tulane 6-6 through the 12-game history. Five of the 12 games between the two schools have been decided by five points or less, and six of the last eight contests have been determined by fewer than 10 points. TCU and Tulane have met twice each season since the Horned Frogs joined Conference USA for the 2002 campaign. When TCU defeated Tulane earlier this year, it marked the third straight year that the Green Wave became the Frogs' first league victim. However, Tulane avoided a season sweep by erasing a 15-point second half deficit last Valentine's Day to earn a 67-66 win last year at Tulane's Fogelman Arena. The Horned Frogs are 2-4 on the road vs. Tulane all time.
The Most Recent Meeting
Corey Santee scored 23 points and became TCU's all-time assist leader in a 73-62 win over Tulane on Jan. 12 in Fort Worth. Santee was 8-of-13 from the field. He got his 515th career assist at 5:50 of the second half, passing Prince Fowler for the school record. He finished with five on the night to give him a total of 516. Aaron Curtis added 13 points and Marcus Shropshire scored 12 for the Horned Frogs. Nile Murry had 10 points for TCU, which trailed 32-31 at halftime. Marcus Kinzer scored 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting to lead the Green Wave, while Quincy Davis scored 13 points. Both teams shot below 40 percent for the game, which was a Turn Back the Clock broadcast on ESPN Classic with Jim Simpson and Bill Raftery calling the action. Curtis earned ESPN SportsCenter's No. 1 Play of the Day after an emphatic one-handed dunk over Tulane's Vytas Tatarunas.
TCU Individuals vs. Tulane
Corey Santee has averaged 19.0 points and 4.9 assists per game in seven previous meetings with the Green Wave. After scoring just four points in his first-ever game against Tulane, he has scored 20+ points in four of the next six contests. Marcus Shropshire is averaging 12.3 points over his three games, despite just 13-for-42 shooting (.310) from the floor. Marcus Sloan has averaged 5.0 points and 6.7 boards per game over the last three meetings and has played six career games against Tulane. Corey Valsin had a pair of double-figure scoring efforts against Tulane during his freshman season and had nine points, three shy of his season high, last year. Femi Ibikunle is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in three career games against the C-USA foe, while Aaron Curtis has posted 7.3 points and 4.3 boards over that same time.
Thinkin' `Bout Postseason
TCU is looking to make its first postseason tournament appearance since the 1998-99 season, which was capped off by a showing in the 1999 NIT. That year, the Frogs finished the campaign with a 21-11 record and reached the third round of the NIT after victories over Kansas State and Nebraska. TCU was upended by Oregon just one game prior to reaching the NIT semifinals in New York City. TCU's lone trip to the NCAA Tournament over the past 18 seasons came in 1998.
Planting the Seed
If the Conference USA Tournament started today, the TCU Horned Frogs would be the No. 7 seed and would face the 10th-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in the tournament's first round. TCU owns an identical league record (6-6) as UAB, but the Horned Frogs own the tiebreaker over the Blazers, who would be the eighth seed, because the Frogs won the head-to-head meeting earlier this season. The top 12 teams in the conference standings will earn a trip to Memphis for the event, which will be played from March 9-12 at the FedExForum.
Streaks and Stones
TCU had its second three-game winning skein in league play this season snapped at Houston on Saturday night. Prior to this year, the Frogs had won three straight Conference USA games just once in the school's first three years in the league (Feb. 6-12, 2002). TCU has never won four consecutive C-USA contests.
A Little Bracketology
Eight TCU opponents are picked to advance to the 2005 NCAA Tournament according to Joe Lunardi's most recent Bracketology report on ESPN.com (Feb. 21). Lunardi's current tourney teams on the Frogs' 2004-05 schedule and their predicted seeds include: #2 Kansas, #3 Louisville, #5 Charlotte, #6 Texas Tech, #6 Cincinnati, #8 DePaul, #10 Memphis and #11 Old Dominion. TCU is currently 2-6 against those teams, but played five of the games on the road. In addition, Horned Frog foes UAB and Vanderbilt appear on the "Last Four Out" and "Next Four Out" lists.
Close Encounters For the Sixth Time
Six TCU games this season have been decided by six points or less and the Frogs have a 3-3 mark in those contests. TCU has three impressive narrow victories: a one-point victory (71-70) over Florida State, a two-point win (61-59) at Memphis and a one-point win (63-62) vs. Marquette. The Horned Frogs have suffered a trio of close losses, falling 67-62 to Old Dominion, 85-79 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and 64-62 at DePaul. In the three years under Neil Dougherty, 25 games have been decided by six or fewer points. TCU is 11-16 in those games, but 10-8 in the past two years after going 1-8 in the first season. After nipping Marquette by a 63-62 count on Feb. 9 in DMC, TCU improved to 7-5 all time under Neil Dougherty in games decided by three points or less. After suffering defeats in three of the first four one-possession games under Coach D, the Horned Frogs have been victorious in six of their last eight games that have been determined by three or less and have won four of the last five.
Down to the Wire
Three TCU games in the Conference USA season have come down to shots in the final 8 seconds of the game. The Horned Frogs received a Corey Santee three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to break a tie to give TCU a win at Memphis; Marcus Shropshire came up short on a three-point attempt with 4 seconds remaining in a 64-62 loss at DePaul; and Shropshire buried a trey with 7.5 seconds left to give TCU a 63-62 win over Marquette.
TCU In Tight Games
TCU is 5-5 in games decided by 10 points or less this season and had lost three straight games that had been determined by that margin until a thrilling one-point win over Marquette. The Horned Frogs have had three tough league road losses, falling by eight points at Saint Louis, seven at Charlotte and just two at DePaul. Six of TCU's last 10 games have been determined by fewer than 10 points after none of the previous 10 games was a single-digit contest. The last 10 games have been decided by an average of just 7.7 points per game.
Up to 16
On Feb. 12 against UAB, TCU recorded its 16th victory of the season, which is already four more than last year's win total of 12 and seven more than the 2002-03 figure of nine. The only time that the Frogs reached the 16-win mark earlier since the 1999-00 season came in 2000-01 (Jan. 27). The 1998-99 team reached 16 wins just one day earlier (Feb. 11). It is the most victories by a TCU team since 2002-03, when the team finished 16-15.
What a Stretch
Against Houston, the Horned Frogs finished an eight-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, Charlotte, DePaul and Houston. Six of the eight schools made the NCAA Tournament last year, while one reached the NIT. Those eight teams are currently a combined 134-66 (.670) overall and 90-22 (.804) at home.
If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It
TCU, 1-5 this year in league road matchups, is now 6-24 (.200) 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 30-65 record (.316) over that time. Of TCU's first five C-USA road games this year, four of the teams shared the league's regular season title last year.