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Getting to know: TCU basketball

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TCU head coach Jamie Dixon yells at his defense during the second half, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

TCU head coach Jamie Dixon yells at his defense during the second half, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The No. 7 Jayhawks would like to put last weekend behind them.

Kansas can do just that when it welcomes No. 25 TCU into Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night. It marks KU’s third ranked foe in as many games to begin Big 12 play. Kansas (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) suffered a 77-60 loss to Iowa State Saturday, and then announced the next day that starting center Udoka Azubuike would miss the remainder of the season.

TCU, meanwhile, is coming off an 85-81 victory over Baylor in the Big 12 opener. The Horned Frogs (12-1, 1-0) will likely be without Jaylen Fisher, who is averaging 12.1 points per game and missed the conference opener with a right knee injury. Fisher led the league with a 44.1 percent clip from 3-point range during nonconference season.

Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN TCU

TOP PLAYER

No. 25 — G Alex Robinson | 6-1, 180, sr.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) lunges to defend against a three from TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) during the first half, Thursday, March 9, 2017 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) lunges to defend against a three from TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) during the first half, Thursday, March 9, 2017 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Iowa State may have the best backcourt in the league, but TCU’s perimeter presence is no joke. And that is mostly due to the play of Robinson.

Robinson ranks second in the nation at 8.7 assists per game. He is No. 2 all-time at TCU with 531 career assists. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12 and on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award.

This season, Robinson has an assist rate of 44.5, which ranks fourth in all of college basketball.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 1 — G Desmond Bane | 6-5, 215, jr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) goes to the bucket and is fouled hard by TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) goes to the bucket and is fouled hard by TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) late in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Behind 22 points from Bane, the Horned Frogs led for all but 21 seconds against the Bears in the Big 12 opener.

Bane is one of three players in the Big 12 to rank in the top 20 in scoring (7th), top 20 in rebounding (17th) and top 15 in assists (10th). Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech and Talen Horton-Tucker of Iowa State are the other two players to do so.

Bane’s true shooting percentage of 64.3 ranks 82nd in the nation, per KenPom.com.

No. 15 — F JD Miller | 6-8, 235, sr.

Eastern Michigan forward James Thompson IV (2) looks for room against TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won 87-69. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Eastern Michigan forward James Thompson IV (2) looks for room against TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won 87-69. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) by Associated Press

Miller is fifth on the team in scoring with an average of 11.5 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds per contest.

But Miller’s most impressive feat is his durability. Miller has played in every possible game of his three-year career. If Miller plays in all possible 32 games this season, he will match Brandon Parish’s TCU record of 136 games played.

According to KenPom, Miller boasts a 127.0 offensive rating. That is second on the team behind Bane, but ranks 64th in the nation.

No. 21 — C Kevin Samuel | 6-11, 250, r-fr

Life is much easier for opposing centers without Azubuike manning the lane.

Samuel should have less resistance without KU’s big man defending him. The redshirt freshman is averaging 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Samuel has made 73.8 percent of his 2-point attempts, a mark that ranks ninth in the nation.

ONE THING TCU DOES WELL

TCU shoots the ball effectively. The Horned Frogs are shooting 58.4 percent on 2-point shots, which is the seventh-best clip in the country. They are also boasting a 56.3 effective field goal percentage, a mark that ranks 18th in the nation.

ONE AREA TCU STRUGGLES

For the second consecutive game, I’m going to highlight that KU’s opponent is not known for its 3-point shooting. The Horned Frogs are shooting just 35 percent from long range, which is 134th in the country. Of course, Iowa State wasn’t known for its ability from long range and then proceeded to knock down 13 triples against Kansas.

MEET THE COACH

TCU is coached by Jamie Dixon, who is 57-28 in his third season at TCU and 385-151 in his 16th season overall. TCU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (49.9) as well as assists (20.2) per game this season.

VEGAS SAYS…

According to Action Network, Kansas is a six-point favorite as of Wednesday afternoon. In this series, seven of the last 10 matchups have been decided by seven points or fewer. Even if Fisher doesn’t play, I’d expect this to be a close game. The Horned Frogs will cover, but the Jayhawks get the win.

My prediction: Kansas 76, TCU 71

Record against spread: 5-9 (1-1 Big 12)

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