Feb. 8, 2005
Setting the Scene
The TCU Horned Frogs (14-9, 4-5 C-USA) and Marquette Golden Eagles (16-6, 4-5 C-USA) square off in what should be a tightly contested battle between schools tied for eighth place in the 14-team Conference USA standings. The two schools are nearly even statistically in numerous categories, including: points per game (71.7 vs. 70.0), points allowed (67.7 vs. 66.1), field goal percentage (.422 vs. .433) and field goal percentage defense (.420 vs. .417). Last year, the Frogs defeated the Golden Eagles twice, including in the C-USA Tournament. None of the four games in the series, which is tied 2-2, has been decided by more than 11 points. TCU has been impressive at home this year, posting an 11-2 record while holding opponents to just 61.1 points per contest.
TCU and Marquette are even 2-2 in the all-time series after the Horned Frogs defeated the Golden Eagles twice last year. TCU upset the NIT-bound Eagles 85-79 on Feb. 3 in Milwaukee, then ousted Marquette from the Conference USA Tournament by a 64-62 count on Mar. 10 in Cincinnati. It was the first league tournament victory for the Horned Frogs since 2000. The two schools had not met prior to becoming C-USA league partners in 2002. Marquette won each of the first two meetings, one in Milwaukee and one in Fort Worth, by 11 points apiece.
TCU Individuals vs. Marquette
Corey Santee has averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game against the Golden Eagles and was held to just five points in their meeting as a freshman. Santee was the hero in both of TCU's wins last year, scoring a total of six points in the final 30 seconds at Marquette, and the final four in the last minute in the conference tournament. Aaron Curtis scored a career-high 15 points at Marquette in TCU's upset victory last year and has averaged 11.0 points per game. Marcus Shropshire has posted 15.5 points per game in two outings on 9-of-22 (.409) shooting from 3-point range. Marcus Sloan had four points and seven rebounds in his last outing versus the Eagles, while Femi Ibikunle has averaged 2.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in two games.
Marq That One Down
TCU picked up arguably its biggest road victory of the Neil Dougherty era and one of the best in recent memory on Feb. 3, 2004 with an 85-79 win. Marquette owned a 10-1 home record at the time and had won 41 of their last 43 in the Bradley Center over the last three years prior to the Frogs' win. Before TCU, the only teams to leave Milwaukee with a `W' in the last three years were then-No. 2 Louisville (73-70) on Feb. 15, 2003 and then-seventh-rated Cincinnati (85-73) on Jan. 14, 2004. TCU led the game from wire to wire and Corey Santee iced the game by draining all six of his free throws in the final 30 seconds. Marcus Shropshire made his first four 3-point attempts in the first seven minutes of the game and finished with a game-high 20 points.
The Most Recent Meeting vs. Marquette
Corey Santee sank a high-arcing floater with 8.1 seconds left to lift TCU to a 64-62 win over Marquette in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament on Mar. 10, 2004. Santee scored on a similar shot to give the Horned Frogs a 62-60 lead with 50.5 seconds left. After Dameon Mason made two free throws to tie the score, Santee dribbled almost 16 seconds off the clock before driving to the right baseline and hitting the go-ahead shot. Mason then missed a driving layup with two seconds left for the eighth-seeded Golden Eagles (17-11). The ninth-seeded Horned Frogs (12-16) advanced to play top-seeded DePaul in the quarterfinals. Chudi Chinweze led four TCU players in double figures with 13 points. Nucleus Smith added 12, Marcus Shropshire scored 11 and Santee finished with 10. Travis Diener tied career highs with 31 points and seven 3-pointers for the Golden Eagles, but was the only player in double figures for Marquette. He scored 17 of his points to help Marquette erase a 13-point second-half deficit for a 58-51 lead with 4:46 remaining. Chinweze's dunk sparked a 9-0 run that gave the Horned Frogs a 60-59 lead. The victory was the Frogs' 1,000th all time win.
East Carolina On My Mind
TCU snapped a season-long four-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon as the Horned Frogs defeated East Carolina 71-59 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. TCU trailed by two, 28-26, at intermission before lighting up the scoreboard for 45 second-half points. The Frogs led by double digits for nearly the entire final 13 minutes of the contest. Marcus Shropshire (19) and Nile Murry (17) paced the Frogs, who shot 47 percent from the field. TCU limited ECU to just 34 percent shooting and edged the Pirates on the glass 36-35.
Guess Who's Back, Back, Back
TCU is playing the middle game of a three-game homestand today against Marquette. It is the first time that the Horned Frogs have had consecutive home games since Dec. 28 and Jan. 3. This is the longest conference homestand of the season for TCU, who had four of its first six and five of its first eight league games on the road. Four of the Frogs' next six are in the friendly confines of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
A Little Bracketology
Nine TCU opponents, including both of the Horned Frogs' foes this week (Marquette and UAB), are picked to advance to the 2005 NCAA Tournament according to Joe Lunardi's most recent Bracketology report on ESPN.com (Feb. 7). Lunardi's current tourney teams on the Frogs' 2004-05 schedule and their predicted seeds include: #1 Kansas, #3 Louisville, #6 Cincinnati, #6 Texas Tech, #9 DePaul, #10 Charlotte, #11 UAB, #11 Old Dominion and #13 Marquette. TCU is currently 1-5 against those teams, but played four of the games on the road. In addition, only Kansas and Louisville defeated TCU by more than seven points.
TCU In Tight Games
TCU is 3-5 in games decided by fewer than 10 points this season and has lost three straight games that have been determined by single digits. The Horned Frogs have had three consecutive tough road losses, falling by eight points at Saint Louis, seven at Charlotte and just two at DePaul. Four of TCU's last six games have been determined by fewer than 10 points after none of the previous 10 games was a single-digit contest.
What a Stretch
The Horned Frogs recently completed a seven-game road stretch that rivals any in the country in terms of difficulty. Since Dec. 9, the Frogs have played at Kansas, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Memphis, Saint Louis, Charlotte and DePaul. Six of the seven schools made the NCAA Tournament last year, while Saint Louis reached the NIT. Those seven teams are currently a combined 99-48 (.673) overall and 67-18 (.788) at home this season.
A Lot on the Line
The TCU Horned Frogs have been to the charity stripe 589 times in 23 games and their trips per game average of 25.6 ranks third in the league, behind only Cincinnati (27.5) and Louisville (26.0). The bad news is that the Frogs have struggled converting the shots this season, shooting a league-low 59.4 percent (350-for-589). TCU has gone to the line an average of 28.1 times in its victories compared to 21.8 trips in defeats.
More on the Line
TCU's free throw percentage of .594 is the lowest by a Horned Frog team since the 1967-68 squad went 415-for-810 (.512). TCU has not shot lower than 60 percent from the stripe since the 1992-93 season (.595). Excluding the Frogs' top two free throw shooters, Marcus Shropshire and Nile Murry, who are a combined 98-for-114 (.860), the rest of the team is just 252-for-475 (.531).
Up to 14
On Feb. 5 against East Carolina, TCU recorded its 14th victory of the season, which is already two more than last year's win total of 12 and five more than the 2002-03 figure of nine. The only time that the Frogs reached the 14-win mark earlier since the 1999-00 season came in 2000-01 (Jan. 24).
Corey Santee came up huge last year in TCU's two victories over Marquette.