Dec. 17, 2004
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Setting the Scene
The TCU Horned Frogs (6-3) have another stiff road test on Saturday when the Frogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-4) in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt, who is a perfect 4-0 at home this year, has won 17 straight nonconference games in Memorial Gym and is 118-10 (.922) against nonleague foes in the building since 1990. After defeating SMU 65-51 on Sunday, TCU has won three of its last four contests. It is the second consecutive homecoming road game for TCU head coach Neil Dougherty, who along with assistant coach Rick Callahan, served as assistant coaches at Vanderbilt from 1989-93. The Horned Frogs will seek to avenge a 35-point loss to the Commodores last year, the team's largest defeat since 1997.
TCU trails the all-time series with Vanderbilt by a 3-1 margin and the Horned Frogs have lost three straight. None of the last three meetings has been decided by fewer than 20 points. TCU is 0-2 all time in Nashville, which includes a 113-56 thrashing on Dec. 18, 1963. Last year, TCU was handed a 35-point loss to Vanderbilt, the team's largest margin of defeat since a 128-84 decision to Tulsa on Mar. 7, 1997. Following last year's loss to VU, the Frogs dropped to 4-7, but went 8-10 the rest of the way (which included a pair of victories over Marquette and one over 10th-ranked Louisville), while Vanderbilt ultimately reached the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen.
TCU head coach Neil Dougherty and TCU assistant coach Rick Callahan were assistants at Vanderbilt for four seasons (1989-93) under longtime coaching legend Eddie Fogler. During their time in Nashville, the Commodores earned a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament (1991, 1993) and two more to the NIT (1990, 1992). The 1992-93 squad grabbed the Southeastern Conference title with a school-best 28-6 mark and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. It is the second straight homecoming for Dougherty, who took the Frogs to Kansas last week, a place he served as an assistant for seven years.
The Last Meeting
The No. 22 Vanderbilt Commodores beat TCU 95-60 to improve to 11-0 for the first time in 33 years. Matt Freije hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes and the Commodores jumped out to a 9-0 lead. After Scott Hundley had consecutive layups for a 20-7 advantage, Vanderbilt maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way, with the final margin being the largest. Vanderbilt led by as many as 32 points before halftime. The Frogs shot just 35 percent (19-of-54), while the Commodores shot 53 percent overall (34-of-64), including 12-of-24 on 3-pointers. The closest TCU got in the second half was 19 points, after Nucleus Smith's layup with 11:43 left made it 67-48. Corey Santee led TCU with 19 points, while Blake Adams had 11.
TCU assistant coach David Cason starred two years at guard (1993-95) and was a student assistant one season (1995-96) at Illinois State for current Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. Cason led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists each of his two seasons and helped lead ISU to an NIT appearance in 1995. Cason, a native of Baltimore, Md., was a second-team all-conference performer, team MVP and was recognized as the top athlete at Illinois State his senior season. In addition, TCU's Neil Dougherty and Vanderbilt's Stallings are bonded through Roy Williams as well. Stallings was an assistant under Williams at Kansas from 1988-93, while Dougherty served at KU from 1995-2002.
Wrapping Up the SMU Game
The TCU Horned Frogs (6-3) and SMU Mustangs (3-3) met for the 180th time on Sunday night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and for the 82nd time the Frogs came away the victors. After a 65-51 triumph, TCU has now won six of seven, 13 of 15, and 17 of the past 21 meetings with SMU. TCU scored 11 seconds into the contest on a Nile Murry layup and never trailed. The Horned Frogs held the Mustangs to two points in the first 6:43 of the game and just three points in the final five minutes of the stanza. With just 26 points, the Horned Frogs were held to their lowest point total in any half this season, but still enjoyed a seven-point advantage (26-19) at the break. TCU made just 9-of-29 shots (31 percent) in the first stanza, but limited SMU to 8-for-28 (29 percent) from the floor. In the second half, the Horned Frogs blew the game open with a 25-8 run over eight minutes, turning a 35-32 game into a 20-point TCU lead at 60-40. The Horned Frogs shot 46 percent in the second half and made 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. TCU was outrebounded 46-36, but forced 21 SMU turnovers on the evening. Corey Santee, TCU's top scorer on the season, picked up two fouls in the first 3:29 of the contest and saw just six minutes of time in the first half. However, Santee scored 11 straight points early in the second half to spur the Frogs and finished with a game-high 18, all in the second half. Murry added 17 points, which included a perfect 3-for-3 night from three-point range. Marcus Sloan (11) posted double figures for the second time in his four-year career and also added a team-high eight boards.
Lone Star Statement
After downing SMU 65-51 in Fort Worth on Sunday night, TCU has now won six of its last seven and nine of its last 11 games against teams from the state of Texas. TCU will play eight games against teams from the Lone Star State this season. SMU was the fifth instate foe among the Horned Frogs' first nine opponents.
Taking A Look at the Early RPIs
TCU's challenging schedule has helped the Horned Frogs to an RPI ranking of 13th according to Real-Time RPI (as of Dec. 13). The Frogs' strength of schedule is currently rated 20th in the nation. Current RPI top 25 teams on the TCU schedule include: No. 3 Kansas, No. 19 Marquette, No. 21 DePaul and No. 23 Old Dominion.
We Must Protect This House
TCU has scored more points in its away games (78.0) than in its home games (74.8), but is giving up 81.5 points per away contest as compared to just 61.4 points per home game. No team has broken the 70-point plateau against the Horned Frogs in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum this season, but all four teams have scored at least 70 on the Frogs in games played outside Fort Worth.
The Line Between Winning and Losing
In TCU's six victories, the opposition is just 136-for-358 (.380) from the field, but in the Frogs' three losses, teams have shot 52 percent (93-for-179). The Horned Frogs are scoring nearly seven points per game higher when the team wins (78.5 vs. 71.7) and is allowing 17 more points per game in losses (81.7 vs. 64.7).
Everything Happens in Threes
TCU's first three games were decided by 10 or more points, the team's next three contests were decided by single digits, and the last three have been decided by 10 or more points.