TCU (0-0) vs. SMU (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 8, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: American Airlines Center (18,500) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: TCU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Away Record: TCU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Neutral Record: TCU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: TCU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Series Record: SMU leads, 103-85.
GAMES NOTES: Year two of the Larry Brown era at SMU will begin on Friday when the Mustangs take on the TCU Horned Frogs in a Lone Star State rivalry game at the American Airlines Center.
This is a second run in the Big 12 for TCU after moving over last year from the Mountain West Conference. The first foray into the league didn't yield much in terms of wins, as the Horned Frogs finished at just 11-21 for their seventh losing season in the last eight years. The highlight of the year was a stunning 62-55 upset of Kansas in early February, but triumphs like that one were few and far between. This season doesn't look to be much better for the Horned Frogs, at least if the preseason is any indication. Although TCU was able to top Arkansas-Fort Smith, 81-74, a seven-point victory over a Division II program isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of a turnaround.
Brown's first go around at the helm for the Mustangs wasn't exactly the thrilling success some had hoped for. SMU went just 15-17 last season with just a two-win improvement from the previous year. Just like TCU, SMU has really struggled to put winning seasons together recently, with just one campaign ending with a record above .500 in the last 10 years. Now Brown has an even bigger challenge ahead of him as the Mustangs get set for their first year in the new American Athletic Conference. Brown was obviously brought in for his recruiting as well as his coaching prowess. The big addition this season is Keith Frazier, a sizable and athletic swingman that will immediately take on the task of being a go-to scorer.
There is a massive amount of familiarity between these programs as they share a long history that dates back to the 1918-19 season. Since that time SMU has taken a 103-85 edge in the all-time series, including a 64-61 victory last year, its second straight against the Horned Frogs.
Despite being one of the better defensive teams in the Big 12 last year, TCU just couldn't find enough offense to string wins together. The Horned Frogs scored a dismal 55 points per game, which was one of the five worst scoring averages in the country. Leading scorer Kyan Anderson (12.0 ppg, 3.4 apg) is back, which is good news as the Horned Frogs look to reshape an offensive identity. However, in the win over Arkansas-Fort Smith during the preseason, it was Jarvis Ray and Karviar Shepherd who excelled, combing for 34 points and 18 rebounds. Ray's efforts were particularly promising since he missed most of last year with a foot injury. Shepherd is just a freshman and will get help from Devonta Abron (7.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) down low.
Frazier will be a big part of the Mustangs' gameplan every night. Frazier is a 6-5 wing that is extremely athletic and will likely be the top option on offense. It will be up to the returning players to fit in around Frazier. Jalen Jones (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) was the leading scorer and rebounder last year. Jones shouldn't take a backseat to Frazier, as he proved he can score effectively, but the two could pair up to form an exciting inside-outside combination. Nick Russell (14.0 ppg, 4.3 apg) was another important contributor last season and his steady ball-handling and shooting from the outside will further complement the nucleus that Brown looks to be building around Frazier. Then there is Shawn Williams (8.,5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), a strong player who will team with Jones up front. Brown needs his returning players and Frazier's potential to gel quickly as the Mustangs desperately need to improve on the scoring from last year when they averaged just 64.5 points per game.
These teams share many similar traits besides their geographic locations. Both played strong defense last season but failed to find enough punch on the other end of the floor. The addition of Frazier should really give SMU a much more dynamic element on offense and that will be critical on Friday and all year long.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 68, TCU 60
11/08 10:46:23 ET