For the season, TCU is averaging 74.5 points per game. But the Horned Frogs (22-15) have boosted that mark to 90 points per game in their last two victories in the NIT, both while operating without injured point guard Jaylen Fisher.
The Horned Frogs, who play Central Florida (24-11) in Tuesday’s semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York (8:30 p.m., ESPN), have experienced two of their top shooting nights of the season during victories over Richmond, 86-68, and Iowa, 94-92, since Fisher sustained a season-ending wrist injury. The Frogs made more than 51 percent of their field goals in both contests.
Although coach Jamie Dixon acknowledged players may have upped their efforts to compensate for the loss of Fisher, who averaged 9.9 points per game and led all Big 12 freshmen in assists (140), he cited recent matchups as the primary reason for the spike in TCU’s offensive numbers.
“Both teams that we’ve played, Iowa and Richmond, were known for their offense first and not as much defense. I think that’s played into the offensive numbers that we’ve put up,” Dixon said. “They’ve been up-and-down games. They’ve shot it well and we’ve shot it well, too. We’ve stayed out of foul trouble and we’ve been able to play these guys a lot of minutes. And that’s been an important fact.”
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UCF is more of a defensive-minded team. Guard Alex Robinson said Fisher’s savvy will be missed in Tuesday’s matchup. He also added that Dixon’s insistence on frequent lineup changes in practice has helped the team weather the last two games without the highest-rated recruit in program history in the lineup.
“We’ve played together so much and coach has changed the lineups throughout practice all year,” Robinson said. “You don’t really think about it throughout the season, but that was extremely smart of him to do. We’re all used to playing with each other. All of that stuff carries over.”