Today our focus shifts to the Big 12 Conference. With five teams ranked in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, the Big 12 looks to be one of the preeminent conferences in college basketball once again. The Frogs' first conference game will take place on the road against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Pokes will return to Fort Worth in early February. OSU and TCU were picked to finish 7th and 8th in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, so this year's series should be exciting. Let's take a look!
Games 13 & 24: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Date: Saturday, January 2
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena - Stillwater, OK
Date: Monday, February 8
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
Know the Foe
SB Nation: Cowboys Ride for Free
Big 12 Preseason Ranking: 7th
Location: Stillwater, OK
Head Coach: Travis Ford
2014-2015 Record: 18-14 (8-10, 7th)
Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Key Losses: F Le'Bryan Nash, G Anthony Hickey, F Michael Cobbins
Key Returners: G Phil Forte, G Jeff Newberry, G Jeffrey Carroll
New Additions: G Jawun Evans, F Davon Dillard, F Chris Olivier
While Oklahoma State lost three of its top four scorers from their 2014-2015 campaign, several key returners and a pair of four-star recruits will likely ensure that Travis Ford's bunch doesn't skip a beat. The most pressing task for the Cowboys this season will be replicating the production from Le'Bryan Nash, Anthony Hickey, and Michael Cobbins. Together, the trio of seniors combined for nearly 34 points and 16 rebounds per game. Phil Forte and Jeff Newberry are two guards that can immediately fill some of the scoring void. Forte finished second on the team in scoring last year, averaging 15.0 points per game. The 5'11" guard from Flower Mound is perhaps best known for his lethal three-point shooting. Newberry contributed 6.7 points per game last season, but only averaged 21.0 minutes per game because of the talent around him. Combined with Forte, these two will likely be the biggest scoring threats from Oklahoma State this season.
Knowing that he had to replace some prolific scorers, Travis Ford went out and found two four-star recruits to bring to Stillwater. Jawun Evans was ranked the 33rd best player in the nation by ESPN out of Kimball High School in Dallas. The guard was named a McDonald's All-American after averaging 23.3 points, 7.5 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game in high school. That effort led Evans to a spot on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A All-State Team. Joining Evans is fellow four-star recruit Davon Dillard, the 3rd ranked recruit from the talent-rich State of Indiana. Dillard averaged 16.0 points and over seven rebounds per game as a senior at Our Savior New American prep academy in New York. These two should figure prominently into OSU's success this season.
Ten total returners with playing experience at the Division I level, in addition to a graduate transfer from Eastern Illinois, means that OSU will have a bench-load of experienced talent. If the Pokes can replicate last year's offensive output and improve on the road in conference play, the team could find itself back in the NCAA Tournament and leave reporters wondering how they were picked to finish 7th in the Big 12.
Last Time Around
02/14/15: TCU 70 vs. Oklahoma State 55
The Frogs pick up their second Big 12 win of the season and their first win over a ranked opponent in two years with a win over Oklahoma State.
03/04/15: Oklahoma State 82 vs. TCU 70
The Frogs controlled the first half but were simply buried under an avalanche of threes from the Cowboys in a comprehensive beatdown in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State 74, TCU 68
Since joining the Big 12, the Frogs are just 1-26 on the road in conference play. All-time, TCU is 1-9 in Stillwater, with the lone win coming in 1925. For this year's team to change that history, the offense will have to step up in a big way. Even with TCU's tough defense, Oklahoma State will be able to score the ball, especially at home. If the Frogs want to keep pace in this one, they'll need guys like Chauncey Collins and Brandon Parrish to find success on the offensive end.
TCU 72, Oklahoma State 70
Much like the game in Stillwater, TCU will need their offense to be firing on all cylinders if they are to split the season series with Oklahoma State. The Frogs have the talent to keep up with the Cowboys, but this contest could very well come down to execution. With a home game against Kansas just two days prior to this meeting, let's hope the Frogs are riding a confidence high from a solid showing against the Jayhawks. TCU's 70-55 drubbing of Oklahoma State in Fort Worth last season will likely be fresh in the minds of the Cowboys as they return to Cowtown this season.
Opponent Team Previews:
Game 1: Southeastern Louisiana
Game 2: Houston Baptist
Game 3: South Dakota State
Game 4: Rhode Island
Game 5: Maryland /Illinois State
Game 6: SMU
Game 7: Colgate
Game 8: Washington
Game 9: Prairie View A&M
Game 10: Abilene Christian
Game 11: Bradley
Game 12: Delaware State
Games 13 & 24: Oklahoma State
Games 14 & 25: West Virginia (10/27)
Games 15 & 20: Texas (10/28)
Games 16 & 29: Baylor (10/30)
Games 17 & 23: Kansas (10/31)
Games 18 & 28: Texas Tech (11/1)
Games 19 & 27: Iowa State (11/2)
Game 21: Tennessee (11/3)
Games 22 & 31: Oklahoma (11/4)
Games 26 & 30: Kansas State (11/5)