Dec. 7, 2004
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Setting the Scene
It is a homecoming game for TCU head coach Neil Dougherty when the Horned Frogs travel to his home state to take on the Kansas Jayhawks (4-0), where Dougherty spent seven years as an assistant coach. It is the second straight year that the schools have met, as then-No. 1 Kansas came away from Fort Worth with an 85-66 victory last year. TCU held a two-point lead early in the second half of that game. The Frogs (5-2), who are playing their fourth straight game away from home, are off to their best seven-game start since the 2000-01 season. TCU owns just one win in 45 tries all time over ranked foes on the road and has never beaten a team rated higher than sixth anywhere. TCU's last national TV appearance was a 71-46 shocker over No. 10 Louisville last February.
About the TCU-KU Series
Kansas leads the all-time series 3 games to 0. The last meeting resulted in an 85-66 KU win on Dec. 1, 2003, in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs trailed by just one, 39-38, at halftime of that contest. Both TCU and Kansas were rated in the top 25 when the teams squared off on Dec. 20, 1997, in Kansas City, Mo. On that night, No. 24 TCU was upended by second-ranked Kansas by a 94-78 count. The first time that TCU and Kansas met was in the 1952 NCAA Tournament when the unranked Frogs played the eighth-ranked Jayhawks. The Western Regional game was played in Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The Jayhawks won the game by a 68-64 count and went on to win the 1952 NCAA Championship. That was the only game in the tournament that KU won by fewer than 17 points. TCU finished that season with a 24-4 record and won the Southwest Conference title with an 11-1 league record. The Horned Frogs were led that year by first-team all-conference performers George McLeod and Johnny Ethridge.
Mama, I'm Coming Home
Thursday night's game featuring the TCU Horned Frogs and the Kansas Jayhawks is a homecoming for head coach Neil Dougherty, who served as an assistant coach at KU for seven seasons. During his seven campaigns, Kansas averaged nearly 30 victories per season and won four conference championships. The Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Final Four in his final season in Lawrence before falling to eventual champion Maryland. He was introduced as TCU's head coach on March 25, 2002, just one day after Kansas reached the Final Four with an Elite Eight win over Oregon. Dougherty rejoined the Jayhawks for their game against the Terrapins. At his introductory press conference, Dougherty held up a string from the net that the Jayhawks had just cut down after winning the Midwest Regional. He said, "I had the chance to snip this piece of net and it looks so insignificant as it stands right here as I am holding it, but you would have to fight me, every one of you, to pry it out of my hand right now and that is what we want to get to. I want student-athletes who come through this university to have the feeling and sense of accomplishment that those young men had yesterday up in Madison, Wis., because I am going to tell you--it was great! It was so good to see the smiles on their faces and that can be done here. It can be accomplished and that is what we are going to set out to do."
The Last Meeting
Fort Worth native Keith Langford scored 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting in his homecoming and sparked the game-deciding run in the second half to lead No. 1 Kansas to an 85-66 victory over TCU. Kansas led for good after Langford's short jumper in traffic with 17:33 left broke a 43-43 tie. TCU had its only lead after Corey Santee's 3-pointer in the first minute of the second half made it 41-39. The Horned Frogs were hosting a No. 1 team for the first time ever. Santee led TCU with 19 points, while Nucleus Smith had 13. TCU managed to trail by just one, 39-38, at halftime when Chudi Chinweze grabbed a missed 3-pointer by Santee, then turned and shot just before the buzzer sounded.
The Ties That Bind
The Dougherty family ties to the University of Kansas and the Sunflower state are strong, and there will be numerous family and friends of Coach Dougherty at the game. Here are just some of the notes on his return:
* Head coach Neil Dougherty was born and raised in Leavenworth, Kan., which is approximately a 45-minute drive from Lawrence. Dougherty was an all-state guard and earned honorable mention All-America status as a senior at Leavenworth High School. He led his team to a state championship game appearance in the spring of 1978 when he was a junior. Leavenworth lost to Selina South, but Dougherty hit 16 field goals, a Class 4A record that still stands today.
* Dougherty was given the nickname "Booty," after former Kansas player Booty Neal (1978-81).
* Neil and Patti's oldest child, daughter Megan, attended KU her freshman year prior to transferring to TCU prior to the 2003-04 academic year.
* Dougherty's sister, Lisa, is one of the top players in the history of Kansas' women's basketball program. She played from 1985-88 and helped the Jayhawks to a pair of Big Eight titles and two NCAA Tournaments (1987 and 1988). For her career, Lisa scored 1,163 points, which ranks 13th all time among KU players.
* Neil P. Dougherty, a sophomore guard, attended Lawrence Free State High School for three years prior to moving to Fort Worth.
* Dougherty's legacy lives on in a group of students -- "Neil's Atomic Fireballs" -- that still camps for seats at Allen Fieldhouse three seasons after Dougherty's last game as a KU assistant. Dougherty started a tradition of eating Atomic Fireball candy for good luck before and during Jayhawk games. Any player who was injured was to hold the fireball in his mouth until it dissolved without drinking any water in order to contribute to the team. The craze took off and soon fans were delivering Atomic Fireballs to the team on road trips. Look for plenty of fireballs to be available courtside for Thursday's game.
* Dougherty on his return to Lawrence: "When I signed the contract to play the games, I had goosebumps. That shouldn't surprise me because I had goosebumps every day for seven years when I walked through the tunnel at Allen Fieldhouse. It's a special place and a time in my life I will not forget."
* Dougherty is a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan who is known to look at the Kansas City football schedule prior to arranging his team's practice times. TCU sophomore Blake Adams and Kansas City wide receiver/kick returner Dante Hall both graduated from Houston's Aldine Nimitz High School.
* Dougherty and current KU senior Wayne Simien both are graduates of Leavenworth High School.
It's a Long Road Back
TCU will conclude its season-long four-game road trip with a matchup with No. 2 Kansas on Thursday night. After playing their first four games at home, the Frogs will have played four straight and five of their next six contests on the road. Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 20, TCU will have had just one home game (Sunday, Dec. 12 vs. SMU). Until this stretch, TCU had not played four consecutive games outside Fort Worth since Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2000, when the team played three games in the Thanksgiving Classic in Las Vegas before traveling to UT-San Antonio. Prior to that, TCU last played four straight away from home in the 1997-98 season.
All-Time Against the Top 25
The TCU Horned Frogs are 11-82 (.118) all time against teams ranked in the nation's top 25. TCU has just one victory over a ranked opponent on the road ever. That win came on Jan. 19, 1998, when TCU upended 24th-rated Hawaii, 83-76, in Honolulu. Since that time, the Frogs have lost nine straight, most recently an 83-56 decision at 20th-ranked Memphis on Mar. 3, 2004. In all, TCU is 1-44 (.022) against top-25 teams outside of Fort Worth.
Have Ball, Will Play
Kansas will be the 11th ranked opponent that TCU has played in Coach Dougherty's 65th game at the helm of the program. 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. During the entire decade of the 1990s, TCU played just 19 ranked teams in 303 games. TCU is 1-9 against top-25 teams under Dougherty, but 1-3 against teams rated in the nation's top 10.
That Win Made Our Top 10
TCU is now 5-34 (.128) 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 in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2, 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 Horned Frogs have beaten a No. 6, No. 8, No. 9 and two No. 10 teams in the school's history. Until the 25-point trouncing of Louisville, each of the previous 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.
Nine programs on TCU's schedule, including Kansas, have made a total of 39 NCAA Final Four appearances since 1940, and those schools have won nine NCAA Championships. Coach Dougherty helped lead Kansas to the 2002 Final Four.
Against the Big 12
The TCU Horned Frogs are 276-382 (.419) all time against schools that currently make up the Big XII. Obviously, the vast majority of those games have been played against Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Tech Tech, while they competed in the former Southwest Conference. The only school in the Big XII that the Frogs have never beaten is Kansas (0-3). Since Neil Dougherty took the reins at TCU, the Frogs have gone 2-3 against the league, with wins over Baylor (1) and Texas Tech (1) and losses to Texas Tech (2) and Kansas (1).
Current Frogs Against the Jayhawks
Marcus Shropshire is the only Horned Frog player to have played Kansas more than one time, as the transfer from Texas Tech has played four games against the Jayhawks, including one in Allen Fieldhouse his sophomore campaign. Shropshire is averaging 8.8 points per outing, which includes a pair of 13-point games. The senior is 9-for-23 (.391) from three-point range against the Jayhawks. Corey Santee had 19 points and five assists in 36 minutes against KU last year. No other current TCU player scored double figures in that contest.