MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s a different season, but the situation is similar. The last time TCU’s men’s basketball team visited the WVU Coliseum, West Virginia was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
Behind 25 points from Taz Sherman, and 10 points off the bench by Malik Curry, the Mountaineers ended the skid, and ended the regular season with a win.
Fast forward to this year, and TCU once again comes to town to face a West Virginia (10-7, 0-5 Big12) team that’s in the middle of a losing streak. That’s where the similarities stop, though.
Unlike last season, the Horned Frogs (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) enter Wednesday’s contest ranked 14th in the nation. Not only do they possess one of the Big 12 Conference’s top scorers, but across the board, they’re an improved team from a season ago.
“I think it’s the most-talented team Jamie (Dixon)’s had since he’s been at TCU,” Bob Huggins said Monday. “They’re like the Lakers used to be. They’re like the Showtime Lakers. They do a great job running lanes. There’s various clips of them rebounding a ball, outletting it, and scoring a layup at the other end before the ball ever touched the floor.”
The most notable example of TCU’s abilities this year lies in junior guard Mike Miles Jr. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year is having a season worthy of the award. He’s averaging 19 points per game, and shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.
“Terrific in transition,” Huggins said of Miles. “I think he’s a guy, who certainly will play in the [NBA], because that style of play is sought after. And, he’s very, very good at it. He’s as good in the open court as anybody we have in the [Big 12] now, probably.”
Huggins knows a future NBA player when he sees one. He recently added a former NBA player to his coaching staff, as DerMarr Johnson has been hired to be an assistant coach. It’s unclear at this time if Johnson will be eligible to coach in the contest, as he continues to transition from his role as director of player development at Cincinnati.
West Virginia has suffered five straight losses to begin Big 12 play, three of which have come by six points or less. The Mountaineers are coming off a one-point loss at Oklahoma on Saturday. WVU was able to clean up the turnover issues that have persisted for much of this season, but sub-par free throw shooting was once again a defining characteristic in the outcome.
While Huggins admitted the team hasn’t taken advantage of opportunities and crucial situations often enough, players continue to step up to give their input on how the losing streak can come to an end.
“Obviously, guys like Keddy have voiced their opinions, as have a lot of other guys,” said Huggins. “I think what’s important is that the guys that voice their opinion are the guys that are giving it everything they have, and really kind of as much as anybody can, carry the load.”
TCU, meanwhile, cooled off one of the hottest teams in the country last time out, as Miles and company took down then-No. 11 Kansas State by 14 points. Miles tallied the first double-double of his career with 13 points and 11 assists to help the Horned Frogs snap a two-game losing skid.
“Jamie’s done a really, really good job of making it an up-tempo style,” Huggins said of TCU’s offense.
Despite Miles’ scoring ability, Dixon’s team ranks ninth in the Big 12 in shooting percentage and tenth in the league in three-point shooting percentage. However, the Horned Frogs are the best rebounding team in the league, and average a conference-best 12.6 offensive rebounds per game.
Dixon’s group also hangs onto the basketball better than any other team in the conference, as they average the fewest turnovers per game in the Big 12.
WVU’s Tre Mitchell, averaging a team-best 15.4 points per game in conference play, leads all Big 12 players in rebounds per contest since league play began, averaging nine boards a night.
West Virginia and TCU enter this week averaging an identical 78.1 points per game on offense. However, the Horned Frogs own the second-best scoring margin (+13.4) in the league, while WVU ranks in the bottom third of the conference with a +8.7 scoring margin.
After winning each of the first 11 meetings with TCU, WVU is 6-4 against Texas Christian since the start of the 2017-18 season. The Mountaineers have never lost to TCU in Morgantown.
Wednesday’s contest will tip at 7 p.m. ET, and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.