That the Frogs lost at home to the Kansas State Wildcats wasn't a particularly big surprise. Kansas State is a top 25 basketball club and already has a win over preseason conference favorite Oklahoma State, so there's certainly no shame in losing to the Big 12's other purple power, especially when the frogs kept the game tight for much of the second half. Still, this wasn't a performance to put on highlight tapes, as once again TCU showed several of the issues that dogged them in the Big 12 last year. The frogs were outrebounded by the visitors, which is to be expected to some extent given the emphasis that the wildcats put on rebounds and a bit of early foul trouble for Karviar Shepherd and Amric Fields. Still, the end margin of -17 on the boards makes winning any basketball game a dicey proposition, and when you're already at a bit of a talent disadvantage being dismantled in rebounding like that makes an upset nigh impossible. We knew rebounding might be a sore spot with the injuries we've had this year (in particular Devonta Abron was a monster on the offensive boards, and his presence is missed) but Shepherd and Fields can't combine for just six rebounds given how much court time they get. The frogs were also cold from three point range tonight, which contributed to making the final score more lopsided than the game actually looked, as TCU jacked up 16 three pointers and made just two. The third (and most disheartening) reason for the Frogs loss though was shooting a mere 58% on free throw attempts for the second game in a row, with particularly severe finger wags to Amric Fields and Brandon Parrish for their 50% efforts from the line. Lost points at the stripe mean that TCU has to try and bomb away from three earlier and earlier, and this TCU team has been very streaky from behind the arc this year, so best not to have to rely on it overmuch.
There were positives though, as Karviar Shepherd continues to grow and impress. He didn't look for his shot a lot tonight (though he had a lefty hook that was dynamite) but he drew attention and made great passes to actually lead the team in assists tonight with four. The frogs did a good job bringing defensive pressure and forcing turnovers, making Kansas State cough up the ball 17 times combined to 8 for the Frogs, which neatly accounts for the nine more shots that TCU managed over the Wildcats (a pity we didn't make more of them).
Going up against Baylor on Saturday will be a challenge, as once again the Bears have put together another nice group of talented players that Baylor's Scott Drew recruited (through fairly duplicitous means). The good news is that Drew has never impressed me with his actual in game coaching and the Bears are coming off a solid loss to Iowa State that may give coach Johnson a plan to work with. This is a game that TCU should ideally revert a bit to the 2013 mindset of taking the air out of the ball, playing solid and active defense and sending Kyan Anderson penetrating with about 10-12 seconds on the shot clock to see what develops. With Amric Fields in the fold it may end up going a lot better for us this time around.