And that’s before you consider how talented Kentucky is, how well they have been playing this season and the fact that UCLA was playing their first road game of the season against them in front of 23,000 screaming members of Big Blue Nation.
With all that in mind, really consider what the Bruins did on Saturday, overcoming a sluggish start and an early Kentucky run to more-or-less manhandle the Wildcats for a solid 25 minutes. UCLA was up double-figures for the majority of the second half and would have won by that amount if it wasn’t for a late flurry of buckets from Kentucky.
And they did all of that despite the fact that Lonzo Ball really only played about 20 good minutes on Saturday. T.J. Leaf was terrific, Ike Anigbogu opened quite a few eyes and Aaron Holiday completely changed the course of the game when he entered in the first half.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers certainly made a statement on Saturday, as they went into Charlottesville and knocked off No. 6 Virginia. They did so despite not having anyone on the roster score more than 11 points and while forcing just 14 turnovers. West Virginia really needed this win after falling against Temple earlier in the season.
Indiana: The Hoosiers landed their second elite win of the season as they knocked off No. 3 North Carolina in Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. This comes three weeks after they beat Kansas on a neutral court, giving them the best pair of wins in the country. The bad news? O.G. Anunoby sprained his ankle and will have to miss some time, but that’s neither here nor there. That injury isn’t going to take either of those wins off the board.
Middle Tennessee State: Kermit Davis may have a better team this season than the one that he had last season, when the Blue Raiders beat No. 2 seed Michigan State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Blue Raiders obliterated Ole Miss on the road on Wednesday, following that up with a win at South Alabama.
Illinois: Coming off of a three-game losing streak that seemingly had Illinois fans ready to fire John Groce on the spot, Malcolm Hill and the Illini responded with a pair of quality wins. They knocked off Dennis Smith Jr. and N.C. State on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and followed that up by beating VCU, 64-46.
TCU: The Horned Frogs are one of just two teams in the Big 12 that remain undefeated after a 2-0 week. TCU not only knocked off potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz at the Washington Huskies for the second straight time, they also manhandled a good Arkansas State team, 77-54. Jamie Dixon and company will head to SMU and raucous Moody Coliseum on Wednesday. We’ll know more about them by then.
Jamie Dixon’s return to his alma mater is continuing to pay dividends on the recruiting trail.
Kevin Samuel, a top-100 center in 2017, committed to TCU on Tuesday to become the second four-star prospect to pledge to the Horned Frogs under Dixon.
TCU already has secured three commitments for its 2017 class with three-stars R.J. Nembhard and Kuat Noi already in the fold. Samuel, though, instantly becomes the headliner of the group. The 6-foot-10 center from Houston chose the Horned Frogs over offers from the likes of Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, UCLA and Texas A&M.
TCU’s recruiting in just a few months under Dixon has been very strong, starting with nabbing four-star UNLV de-commit Jaylen FIsher in June. Dixon and his staff have also been strong in-state, with Texas products Josh Parrish and Nembhard along with Samuel electing to stay in the Lone Star State with TCU.
The Horned Frogs were never able to find their footing in the Big 12 under Trent Johnson, but as Dixon continues to reel in top talent, it’s easy to see how TCU will be able to climb out of the conference cellar and into NCAA tournament contention before too long.
TCU’s leading scorer is leaving the school and college basketball behind.
Chauncey Collins, who had two years of eligibility remaining, will pursue a start to his professional career, the school announced Tuesday night. The Horned Frogs also announced the departure of little-used freshman guard Lyrik Shreiner.
“We would like to thank Chauncey and Lyrik for their contributions to TCU,” coach Jamie Dixon said in the school’s press release. “We wish Chauncey the best as he looks to begin his professional career to provide for his family and will support Lyrik as he continues his college career at another university.”
Collins started 24 games and averaged 12.3 points on 38.7 percent shooting while dishing out 2.0 assists and grabbing 3.0 rebounds in 31.0 minutes per game. His professional career would presumably begin overseas or in the D-League.
His departure paves the way for incoming recruit Jaylen Fisher to take the reigns at point guard immediately in Dixon’s first year coaching at his alma mater. Fisher is a consensus top-50 recruit who pledged to TCU following decommitting from UNLV.
Shreiner appeared in 22 games last year, averaging 5.4 minutes per appearance.
Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.
TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.
“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”
Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.
Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.
Saturday afternoon TCU landed its first commitment in the Class of 2016, and the Horned Frogs now have a player who should be quite familiar with the program.
6-foot-5 small forward Josh Parrish announced via Twitter that he’ll play his college basketball for Trent Johnson. Parrish is a local product as well, as he attends Seguin HS in Arlington, Texas and played for the Urban DFW Elite grassroots program on the adidas Gauntlet circuit.
“Thanks to all the schools that have ever recruited me, but I am blessed to say I’ve committed to TCU,” Parrish tweeted.
Next season Parrish will join his older brother Brandon, currently a junior guard, on the TCU roster, and he held offers from Fresno State, SMU and VCU. At the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in July Parrish averaged 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, shooting better than 58 percent from the field.
With Parrish’s older brother and Kenrich Williams (who’s out for the season with a knee injury) both being juniors, adding another slasher for the future is something that will benefit TCU from a depth standpoint. TCU has just one scholarship senior (power forward Devonta Abron) on its current roster, but they have room to add a few more players in the Class of 2016.
Last week it was reported that TCU forward Kenrich Williams, who played through knee issues for much of the 2014-15 season, was still struggling with pain after undergoing two separate procedures during the summer. With that being the case Williams had two choices: continue to play through pain or get the issue taken care of.
Thursday it was reported by the Forth Worth Star-Telegram that he’s chosen the latter option and will undergo microfracture surgery on Friday. As a result Williams, who led the Horned Frogs in rebounding last season and is also their most versatile defender, will miss the entire 2015-16 campaign.
And according to head coach Trent Johnson, it took come convincing to get Williams to not rush the process.
Horned Frogs coach Trent Johnson consistently praised Williams’ energy in games last season, and he said Wednesday he had to convince Williams to take the time he needed to return to full health.
“Believe me, he struggled with it,” Johnson said. “Because he’s such a team guy.”
Williams averaged 8.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest last season. While his offense will be missed by a team that has to account for the loss of three of its top four scorers in Kyan Anderson, Trey Zeigler and Amric Fields, it’s on the boards and on defense where Williams’ absence will be felt the most.
Rebounding-wise TCU does return forwards Karviar Shepard and Chris Washburn, who were ranked second and third on the team in rebounding respectively last season. Williams’ injury also opens up more minutes for players such as Brandon Parrish (5.5 ppg) and sophomore Malique Trent.