TCU men racking up numbers on defense

TCU sophomore forward Chris Washburn is second in the Big 12 with 18 blocks this season.
TCU sophomore forward Chris Washburn is second in the Big 12 with 18 blocks this season. Star-Telegram

For Trent Johnson, there is a simple explanation behind his team’s 10-0 start to the men’s basketball season.

“We’ve got bigger players and we’ve got better players and we’re healthy,” the TCU coach said. “Rebounding, defending and taking care of the ball gives you an opportunity to beat a lot of people.”

The Horned Frogs have outrebounded nine of their 10 opponents, forced 124 turnovers and blocked 10 or more shots against four teams, including Saturday night against McNeese State when Chris Washburn and Kenrich Williams each had three blocks.

For the season, TCU is allowing 35.1 percent shooting (second-best in the Big 12) and 55.6 points per game (third-best).

Only three of the victories have come against Power 5 opponents, and Johnson acknowledges that the modest schedule has allowed theFrogs to put up dominant numbers in some categories.

But Johnson is still seeing things he likes, regardless of the opponent.

“For me and for them, it’s always been the point of attack where you have to be good defensively,” he said. “So if you’re good out front and guys rotate defensively on the back side and take charges and things like that, that’s where you’re really good.

“I don’t talk about blocking shots. Chris has a knack; sometimes he over-helps. Again, it’s all relative to who you’re playing sometimes.”

Zeigler’s progress

Senior guard Trey Zeigler had eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks against McNeese State. For the first time this year, he did not have an assist. But he has a 20-13 assist-to-turnover ratio this season.

“He’s starting to come around,” Johnson said. “He still needs to finish more balls in practice. He’s got a lot of opportunities. I don’t know what his shooting percentage is, but he’s starting to play better.

“And again, when you talk about Trey, you talk about [Washburn]. These are two guys who didn’t play all of last year. It’s going to take a while.”

Zeigler is averaging 7.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and shooting 38.7 percent. The former Central Michigan and Pittsburgh guard has started every game after sitting out last year because of transfer rules.

“He’s good with the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s a guy that needs to score going towards the rim. He, like everybody else on this team, he means a lot.”

Christmas wish

It’s not going to take much for Johnson to have a peaceful holiday break — just two more wins.

“You know who my guys’ biggest fans are? My wife and family,” Johnson said. “Because if we can take care of business and go into Christmas with a good feeling, guess what? The Johnson family has a good Christmas.”

The Frogs play UT San Antonio on Saturday and Grambling on Monday before taking off Dec. 23-26.

Johnson smiled as he explained, but he is serious about the team continuing to play well — for everyone’s sake.

“The last time they had a really good Christmas and their dad and husband relaxed was when we beat Kansas when I was at Nevada,” he said. “Think about that. That’s a long time ago. That’s all I got to say.”


▪ The Frogs are second among teams receiving votes outside the Top 25 in the AP poll.

▪ The Dec. 29 game against Tennessee State will be played at the University Recreation Center.

▪ The Frogs are 82nd in the country in RPI, ranking eighth in the Big 12.

▪ Guard Kyan Anderson leads the Big 12 in free-throw percentage, 93.9 (31 of 33).

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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