March 9, 2005
Setting the Scene
For the second straight year, the TCU Horned Frogs (19-12) have advanced through the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament to face the tourney's top seed, as this time the sixth-ranked Louisville Cardinals (26-4) await at noon on Thursday. The game will air on ESPN+. The Horned Frogs have won two conference tourney games in the same year just once since 1984. TCU is 5-35 all time against top-10 teams, with the most recent victory being a 71-46 triumph over then-No. 10 Louisville on Feb. 17, 2004 in Fort Worth. TCU is looking for its first 20-win season since the 2000-01 campaign and is eyeing its first postseason tournament berth since the team reached the 1999 NIT.
The Frogs trail the all-time series by a 4 games to 1 margin in a series that has been marked by blowout games. Just one of the five games has been decided by single digits. The closest contest was a 93-85 Cardinal win in the first meeting, on Jan. 12, 2002, in Louisville, Ky. TCU picked up its first-ever victory over Louisville last Feb. 17, upsetting the 10th-ranked Cardinals by a 71-46 final. TCU has allowed 94.0 points per game over the team's four other meetings with U of L. Louisville and TCU have met one time in conference tournament action, with the seventh-seeded Cardinals knocking the 10th-seeded Frogs out of the 2002 first round by virtue of a 110-86 final. The two schools had never met prior to becoming Conference USA partners in 2002. TCU head coach Neil Dougherty is 1-2 all time against Rick Pitino's Cards.
TCU Individuals vs. Louisville
Point guard Corey Santee has averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game over five career meetings with Louisville. He had a game-high 20 points in last year's victory over the Cardinals. Nile Murry had 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds in his first career game against Louisville earlier this year. Injured Frog Chudi Chinweze had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds last year.
The Last Meeting
Louisville raced out to a 17-2 lead and never looked back in dropping the TCU Horned Frogs by an 86-61 final on Jan. 8 in Louisville, Ky. TCU committed 11 turnovers in the opening nine minutes to help the Cardinals stake the lead. The Horned Frogs got as close as 11, 51-40, with 14:28 remaining, but Louisville countered with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. TCU shot just 36.8 percent from the floor, while U of L made 51.9 percent of its shots. Nile Murry (15) and Corey Santee (13) led the scoring efforts for TCU in the Frogs' C-USA opener.
Stopping Them Cold
TCU held Louisville to just 46 points last year, the lowest output by a Rick Pitino-coached team since his Boston University team was defeated 48-46 by Canisius in 1982, his fourth year as a head coach. The 25-point defeat was the most lopsided loss for U of L since the Pitino-led Cardinals fell to Cincinnati 77-50 on Jan. 19, 2002. TCU limited Louisville to just 14 made field goals, the fewest by the program since prior to 1950. The 46 points for Louisville were the fewest by a TCU foe since the Frogs defeated Princeton 76-45 on Dec. 18, 2000 in Fort Worth. Louisville became just the third squad (and first non-Princeton team) since 1992 to score fewer than 50 points against TCU.
That Win Made Our Top 10
TCU is 5-35 (.125) all time against top-10 teams, with the first two wins coming at neutral sites and the last three in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Until a 71-46 thrashing of Louisville last season, TCU had not beaten a team rated as high as 10th in the AP poll since downing No. 8 Arkansas 81-79 on Feb. 14, 1990. The other four top-10 wins were by eight or fewer points. Current TCU assistant coach Kevin Lewis was on the SMU team that was defeated by TCU in 1985.
Have Ball, Will Play
Louisville will be the 14th ranked opponent that TCU has played in Coach Dougherty's 89th game at the helm of the program (1 per every 6.4 games). Prior to his arrival, the Horned Frogs played just seven ranked teams from the 1998-99 season through the 2001-02 campaign, a span of 124 games (1 per every 17.7 games). During the entire decade of the 1990s, TCU competed against just 19 ranked teams in 303 games (1 per every 15.9 games). TCU is 1-12 against top-25 teams under Dougherty.
All-Time Against the Top 25
The TCU Horned Frogs are 11-85 (.115) all time against teams ranked in the nation's top 25 and 0-3 this season after an 89-74 loss to No. 24 Cincinnati on Feb. 26. TCU is 4-20 (.167) all time against ranked teams on neutral sites and 5-66 (.070) against top-25 teams outside of Fort Worth (neutral and road games).
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's victory over Marquette yesterday was the Horned Frogs' fourth straight over the Golden Eagles over the past two years, and the four wins have been by a total of just 13 points. The last three games have been decided by a TCU field goal with 8.1, 7.5 and 12.8 seconds remaining respectively. TCU has knocked MU out of the C-USA Tournament's first round two consecutive seasons.
Planting the Seed
This is the highest seed that TCU has earned in the Conference USA Tournament since the school joined the league in 2002. TCU's previous best was a No. 9 achieved last year. Prior to that, the Horned Frogs were the No. 10 seed in 2002.
TCU's Conference USA Tournament History
After a 60-57 win yesterday, TCU is now 2-2 in Conference USA Tournament games all time. In 2002, the 10th-seeded Horned Frogs suffered a 110-86 defeat in the opening round to seventh-seeded Louisville. Last year, No. 9 TCU defeated No. 8 Marquette by a 64-62 count in the first round of the tournament for the school's first league tourney win since 2000. In the quarterfinals, TCU was downed by DePaul, who reached the C-USA championship game, by an 89-64 result. The final score was not indicative of the game, which was an eight-point contest with 7:21 to play before a 21-5 DePaul run to end the game. The Horned Frogs did not qualify for the 2003 postseason tournament.
TCU's All-Time Conference Tournament History
Since conference tournament play began for the Southwest Conference in 1976, TCU owns an all-time postseason tourney record of 23-33 (.411). TCU was 16-25 in the SWC, went 5-5 in the Western Athletic Conference and is 2-2 in Conference USA action. Prior to last year's triumph over Marquette, TCU's previous postseason win came in 2000, when the Horned Frogs defeated WAC foe San Jose State 84-71 on Mar. 9 in Fresno, Calif. TCU has never won a conference tournament title and has played in the championship game just twice. The last time TCU advanced to the final game of a league tournament was in 1997 when the Horned Frogs suffered an 89-68 loss to Utah on Mar. 8, 1997, in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Second Round and Beyond
TCU has reached the second round of the conference tournament for the second straight season, but for just the third time in the last seven campaigns. The only time that the Horned Frogs have won at least two games in a league tourney since 1984 came in the 1997 WAC Tournament, when the team won three games to reach the championship tilt.
Looking to Accomplish Big Things
TCU is just one win 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 19
On March 9 against Marquette, TCU recorded its 19th victory of the season, which is already seven more than last year's win total of 12 and more than double the 2002-03 figure of nine. TCU's 19 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 19 games just four times.
Delivering in FedExForum
TCU has played two games in Memphis' FedExForum and is 2-0 in the building. TCU had a successful debut as the Horned Frogs upset the Memphis Tigers, 61-59, on Jan. 15 and downed the Marquette Golden Eagles, 60-57, on Mar. 9. Corey Santee has hit a pair of game-winning three-pointers in the final seconds, including a dagger yesterday with 12.8 left to lift the Frogs to a 60-57 overtime win over Marquette. Against Memphis in January, the game was tied at 58 with 5.1 seconds left when Santee received an inbounds pass, dribbled it down court and hit a running 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining to lift TCU. The Horned Frog bench received a technical foul for leaving the bench area and celebrating prematurely. Memphis hit 1 of 2 free throws, but Memphis couldn't get a shot off in the final 0.2 seconds.
Down to the Wire
Five TCU games against Conference USA season have come down to shots in the final 12 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 61-59 win at Memphis; Marcus Shropshire misfired on a three-point attempt with 4 seconds remaining in a 64-62 loss at DePaul; Shropshire buried a trey with 7.5 seconds left to give TCU a 63-62 win over Marquette; Aaron Curtis came up short on a 30-footer at the buzzer after Southern Miss scored on a putback with 3.5 seconds remaining in a 66-64 Southern Miss victory; and Santee buried a trey with 12.8 seconds remaining in overtime to break a tie against Marquette in the C-USA Tournament.