March 3, 2005
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Setting the Scene
The TCU Horned Frogs (18-11, 8-7 C-USA) close out the regular season portion of their schedule on Saturday afternoon when the Frogs visit the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (10-17, 1-14 C-USA). TCU is seeking its ninth league win of the season, which would match the most for the program since 1998. In the last 12 years, TCU has secured as many as nine conference wins just twice. The Horned Frogs have won two straight clashes with the Golden Eagles, but are 0-2 all time in Hattiesburg. A TCU victory could help the Frogs move up from their current No. 8 seed in the conference tournament to either a sixth or seventh seed.
TCU leads the all-time series between the two Conference USA schools by a 3-2 margin. The two teams had never met prior to TCU joining the league in 2002. The Horned Frogs have won two straight meetings, including a 79-67 decision last year in Fort Worth. The Frogs are 0-2 all time in Hattiesburg. The last contest in Mississippi resulted in a 72-64 Southern Miss victory on Jan. 8, 2003.
The Last Meeting
The TCU Horned Frogs led for all but the first 32 seconds in a 79-67 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Jan. 28, 2004 in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. The win leveled the Horned Frogs' league record at 3-3, a mark that matched the best six-game conference start since the 1998-99 season. The Horned Frog defense caused five Southern Miss turnovers and forced the Golden Eagles to miss 11 of their first 12 shots as TCU jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first seven-plus minutes of the game. Southern Miss' only lead of the game was 2-0. TCU owned an eight-point advantage, 33-25, at the intermission. The 25 points were the second-fewest scored against the Frogs in a half this season. In the second half, the Eagles were never able to cut the lead to less than four and TCU sported a double-figure lead for the final 2:44, icing the game at the charity stripe. TCU was led by Marcus Shropshire, who scored a career-high 29 points, and Corey Santee, who matched his season best with 19 points. Fellow guard Nucleus Smith added 13. The backcourt trio combined to go 19-for-21 from the free throw line. Southern Miss connected on 48 percent of its shots, but turned the ball over 20 times. Meanwhile, TCU had a season-low eight turnovers and made 44 percent of its field goals.
TCU Individuals vs. Southern Miss
Corey Santee has averaged 15.8 points and 4.4 assists per game over five previous meetings with Southern Miss. Marcus Shropshire poured in a career-high 29 points last year against the Golden Eagles in his only game against USM. He was 8-for-19 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the contest. Marcus Sloan has played four games vs. the Golden Eagles and has averaged 3.0 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, while Corey Valsin has averaged 3.0 points and 3.6 boards over five games.
Home Was Where the Wins Were
TCU finished with a 14-3 mark at home this season, which were the most home victories in a year since the 2000-01 squad went 15-1 in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Since the building's opening in 1961, TCU has amassed a 370-214 (.634) record at home. Over the past 11 seasons, TCU's homecourt advantage has been even more pronounced, as the Frogs have posted an overall home mark of 132-44 (.750). TCU's 14 home wins rank tied for the third most in school history.
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. TCU is currently one of five C-USA teams listed as an NCAA "Bubble Team" on ESPN.com.
Planting the Seed
If the Conference USA Tournament started today, the TCU Horned Frogs (8-7) would be the No. 8 seed and would face the 9th-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles (7-8) in the tournament's first round. TCU has won three straight meetings with Marquette over the past two seasons, including in the first round 8-9 game last year. TCU can be no higher than the sixth seed at the tournament and no lower than the No. 8 seed. The top 12 teams in the conference standings earn a trip to Memphis for the event, which will be played from March 9-12 at the FedExForum.
Accomplishing Big Things
TCU is just two wins away from its first 20-win season since the 2000-01 campaign (20-11). TCU has posted a total of 10 20-win seasons in the school's basketball history. TCU has had at least 18 wins six times in the past 13 years.
Up to 18
On March 2 against Tulane, TCU recorded its 18th victory of the season, which is already six more than last year's win total of 12 and double the 2002-03 figure of nine. TCU's 18 victories are the most since the 2000-01 season, when the team went 20-11. In the past 13 seasons, TCU has won more than 18 games just four times.
If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It
TCU, 2-5 this year in league road matchups, is now 7-24 (.226) all time in Conference USA road contests since joining the league in 2002. TCU's wins are over UAB and Tulane in 2002; Houston, Marquette and USF in 2004; and Memphis and Tulane in 2005. TCU has had just one .500 or better league road record in the past 12 seasons, owning a 31-65 record (.323) 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.