#23 TCU look to extend nation’s longest winning streak to 13 vs. Yale

No. 23 TCU looks to continue the nation’s longest winning streak when it hosts Yale on Saturday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Horned Frogs (7-0) are winners of 12 consecutive games, including a five-game run to the NIT championship last season.

TCU, which is enjoying its highest ranking in the AP poll since it was 21st in January 1999, is coming off an 87-76 victory over Belmont on Wednesday night. The Horned Frogs led by as many as 18 points in the second half before Belmont cut its deficit to 77-70 with 1:50 to go, so TCU coach Jamie Dixon found cause for concern.

“Gosh, we have to guard a little bit better than that,” he said.

“I thought our offense was good. We spread it around, 20 assists. … But the layups hurt us. We have to guard the dribble better. That’s what we talked to our guys about.”

Yale (5-4) comes in having won two games this week — 76-66 over Delaware on Monday and 84-67 against Bryant on Wednesday. The Bulldogs were picked in a preseason media poll to finish second in the Ivy League behind Harvard, although Yale actually pulled in more first-place votes (eight) than Harvard (six).

Yale’s losses include at Creighton and Wisconsin to start the season.

“Having the experience of going to a big arena, playing a big-time team like Wisconsin and Creighton, I think that experience is going to be really good for us going into TCU,” guard Alex Copeland told The Yale Daily News.

“We know how intense we have to be, and now that we’ve actually won some games … and just played in some close games, we’re better prepared to do what it takes to win.”

TCU has five players averaging double-digit points, led by Vlad Brodziansky at 15.7. The 6-foot-11 senior from Slovakia had 22 points against Belmont, making 5 of 6 3-point shots. Sophomore guard Desmond Bane is averaging 13.6 points and shooting 62.5 percent from beyond the arc (15 of 24).

The other top scorers: senior guard Kenrich Williams (12.4), sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher (10.3) and junior forward JD Miller (10.3). The versatile Williams has posted three consecutive double-doubles and is averaging 10.1 rebounds.

The Belmont game wasn’t the first time this season, though, that TCU failed to put away a team in the second half. Dixon went back to talking about defense and how Belmont made 19 of 24 shots from 2-point range.

“We have to be a team that matures,” Dixon said.

“We’re a really young team. We have six returning guys that played. We’ve got to finish games better and play 40 minutes of great basketball — which is an impossibility, but we have to sustain.”

Through games of Nov. 30, Yale was 17th nationally in assists per game (19.1) and seventh in total 3-pointers made (86 of 243. 35.4 percent).

While the Bulldogs will present some problems for TCU’s defense, those challenges aren’t what they could be. Yale has been playing without talented sophomore forward Jordan Bruner (out for season with a meniscus injury) and guard Makai Mason, a former first-team All-Ivy performer who missed last season because of injury and is still recovering from a preseason stress fracture in his left foot. He likely is out until mid-January.

Yale is led by 6-7 sophomore Miye Oni, who is averaging 15.6 points. Forward Blake Reynolds averages 11.4 points, and guard Alex Copeland is at 11.1.

This is the first meeting between TCU and Yale.