|No. 20 TCU looks to stay unbeaten vs. No. 22 Nevada|
LOS ANGELES -- Friday's nightcap in the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader at Staples Center features a pair of Top 25 teams in No. 20 TCU and No. 22 Nevada that are somewhat new to the poll scene.
TCU (9-0) joined the Top 25 on Nov. 27, the program's first ranking since having a cup of coffee in the poll in December 2014. The Horned Frogs' current No. 20 standing is TCU's best since reaching No. 21 in 1999.
"Coach (Jamie Dixon) really stresses that nobody can do it alone. It's a whole team thing, and we've just been able to come together as a group and string some wins together," TCU's Desmond Bane said.
TCU has won more than just a few games; its 9-0 start extends the program's winning streak to 14, after it concluded the 2016-17 campaign with five straight victories to win the National Invitational Tournament.
The Horned Frogs' most recent win -- a 94-83 defeat of nearby rival SMU on Dec. 5 -- started this important week for TCU off with a bang.
"It was a big win for us," Bane said. "I know Kenrich (Williams) really wanted this one; he never beat SMU before in his career...It was good to see us defend, get stops when we needed to, and score."
Scoring has not been much of a problem for TCU early in the season, which ranks 12th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com metrics. Five Horned Frogs also average in double-figures scoring.
Williams' 27 points led the Horned Frogs past SMU, a milestone win for TCU seniors such as himself. It marked another step in the progress of this program under second-year coach Dixon.
"It's huge for our program, even after I graduate," Williams said in the postgame press conference. "
Nevada (8-1) has enjoyed a similar resurgence under its own second-year coach, Eric Musselman. The Wolf Pack won the Mountain West Conference for the first time a season ago, reaching the program's first NCAA Tournament since 2007.
The 2006-07 season also marked the last time Nevada played a Top 25 team while also ranked. It also occurred in the regular season in the 2005-06 campaign.
The Wolf Pack may need a win Friday to remain in the poll, coming off an 82-76 loss in overtime Dec. 5 at Texas Tech.
"The difference in the game was free throws attempted," Musselman told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "We're not an overly physical team, and I think Texas Tech's a really physical team, does a great job."
Texas Tech shot 38 foul shots to Nevada's 17. The Wolf Pack missed just three, but one came from Jordan Caroline in the waning minutes, which would have put Nevada ahead by three points in regulation.
Caroline, one of Nevada's leading scorers at 17 points per game, managed just six at Texas Tech. The Wolf Pack does, however, feature a multifaceted offensive attack. Brothers Caleb and Cody Martin are averaging 20 and 15 points per game, respectively.
Transfer Kendall Stephens is averaging 9.7 points per game. He is a familiar face for Bane, who said he got to know the former Purdue guard on recruiting trips.