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Second Chance Points: Baylor Bears

When TCU and Baylor first met in Fort Worth, the Bears prevailed in overtime after an ugly 45 minutes of play. What can TCU improve upon from that contest to pick up a victory in Waco tonight?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the elements that the Big 12 Conference prides itself on is its competition format - in Big 12 basketball, each team plays every other team at home and on the road. The league boasts that this double round robin format is the most successful way to determine "One True Champion." This gives each team the opportunity to make corrections and adjustments before the second matchup in the season series.

TCU travels to Waco tonight, looking to extract revenge on the team that gave the Frogs their third consecutive Big 12 loss earlier in January. In the first match-up, TCU led late but Baylor forced overtime, eventually prevailing 66-59. The game was overshadowed by fouls and free throws, resulting in a disjointed affair that never really felt like a basketball game. On a night where both teams were looking to pick up their first conference win, poor shooting and sloppy play resulted in a low-scoring, overtime battle.

Numbers Sometimes Lie


TCU

Baylor

FG %

37.5%

29.8%

3-PT %

15.4%

8.3%

FT %

53.6%

67.4%

Points in the Paint

34

24

Bench Points

22

17

Assists

11

5

Turnovers

11

12

Blocks

5

3

Steals

5

8

Despite the ugliness of the game, there are certainly some areas of improvement as well as some areas where the Frogs excelled. By fixing the mistakes, and building upon the positive elements, the Frogs could pick up their second Big 12 win of the season tonight in Waco.

Attack the Paint

One of the areas where the Frogs excelled against Baylor was in the paint. TCU was able to break the Bears' zone defense, open up space, and create opportunities down low. As the shot chart below illustrates, 17 of the Frogs' 21 made field goals came from inside the paint. Karviar Shepherd and Trey Zeigler both excelled in this area in the first meeting, combining to score 17 points, including two monster dunks that brought the TCU crowd to life.

Here's the problem: TCU missed 16 point-blank shots in the paint, nine of which occurred from within the restricted circle. TCU shot barely above 50% in the paint. For the Frogs to come away with a win tonight, they are going to have to increase that percentage and connect on shots from close range. The first contest against the Bears was one of TCU's worst shooting performances, with missed opportunities in the paint being a major reason why. Although TCU outscored Baylor 34-24 in the paint, these missed shots loomed large in the first game between these in-state rivals.

BU Shot Chart

Carpe Diem Offense

To build upon the previous point, the Frogs know that they are going to have limited opportunities to score points against the Baylor defense. The Bears have played tough defense throughout Big 12 play, and tonight should be no exception. One area where TCU struggled in the first contest was capitalizing on possessions. The Frogs had way too many empty trips down the court that resulted in turnovers, missed shots, or mental errors that cost TCU the opportunity to score.

For example, in the last 8:00 of the first half, the Frogs only attempted five shots. That included nearly a five minute span where TCU didn't get a single look at the basket. The Frogs were never able to create any sort of offensive flow because of fouls and turnovers. To compound the problem, TCU entered the bonus with 5:17 remaining in the first half, leading to nine additional Baylor fouls. We all know about the Frogs' free throw issues, so this shouldn't come as a surprise, but TCU only shot 8/16 from the line during this span.

It will be crucial for TCU to get into some sort of offensive rhythm tonight if they are to knock off the Bears. Whether it be through creating opportunities, smarter fouls committed, or a reduction of turnovers, the Frogs will have to capitalize on every trip down the floor.

Play 40 (or more) Minutes

Although the Frogs never led by more than five points in the contest, there were two significant points in the game where TCU seemed to possess all of the momentum, but failed to capitalize. A monstrous Trey Zeigler dunk gave TCU a 44-40 lead (and all momentum) late in the second half, but a 2:10 scoring drought allowed Baylor to tie the game at 44. The Frogs would go on to score the next five points, opening up a 49-44 lead, re-energizing the crowd in the process. But again, TCU never built upon this momentum and the Bears were able to tie the game minutes later.

After the Bears forced overtime, the Frogs looked dismal. Baylor outscored TCU 13-6 in the extra frame, holding the Frogs to just one field goal in the 5:00. In fact, TCU only attempted one shot in the first 2:33 of overtime, turning the ball over twice. It will be vital for TCU to play with the same intensity and physicality for the entire game, no matter how long that may be.

Playing on the road tonight will create significantly fewer opportunities for the Frogs to gain any sort of momentum. But if the opportunity presents itself, TCU must seize this momentum and put Baylor away.

BU Game Flow

Crash the Boards

One area that the Frogs have improved upon significantly since the first meeting is rebounding. TCU seems to be figuring out their Big 12 opponents, which has led to an increase in intensity on the boards. TCU out-rebounded West Virginia by 10 in Morgantown in January and out-rebounded Kansas by nine last week. This dominance of the boards will have to continue tonight if the Frogs want to defeat their in-state rivals. In the first contest, TCU was out-rebounded 49-41, including 22-14 on the offensive end. It will be important for TCU to control the glass tonight, which is no easy task with Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince patrolling the area. In the first contest, Gathers pulled down 18 boards while Prince grabbed another 10. Tonight's game could very well be decided by which team is able to crash the boards more effectively.

Defense Wins Championships

While TCU's offense struggled, it was the defense that kept the Frogs in the game ... stop me if you've heard this before. In the first game, TCU's defense seemed to be the bright spot for the Frogs once again. After all, TCU held Baylor to just 66 points on 29.7% shooting in 45 minutes of play. The defense was particularly strong in the first half. After the Bears opened the game 3/4 from the field, TCU held Baylor to 2/17 shooting, which included an 8:57 span of no field goals.

In the first meeting, the TCU defense was lights out protecting the arc. Baylor shot just 1/12 from deep, a dismal 8.3%. The Bears currently have the second-best three-point percentage in the Big 12, averaging seven threes in 18 attempts per game, which equates to about 37.3%. Preventing one of the conference's best three-point shooting teams from hitting deep shots will pay dividends in the rematch. This defense will have to play tough once again this evening for TCU to reverse fortunes and come away with a win.

With tough defense usually comes foul trouble, and this was definitely the case in the first game. TCU committed 29 fouls in the game, with Trey Zeigler eventually fouling out and Chris Washburn, Karviar Shepherd, and Kenrich Williams all picking up four each. These foul troubles prevented any sort of regular defensive rotations, and allowed Baylor to pick up 31 of their 66 points from the free throw line. For the TCU defense to work its magic again tonight, fouls will have to be kept to a minimum.

Foulin' Frogs

Player

Fouls

Minutes

Trey Zeigler

5

33

Chris Washburn

4

25

Karviar Shepherd

4

28

Kenrich Williams

4

33

Amric Fields

3

24

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Tonight's game will hopefully be a lot cleaner than the first contest. TCU knows exactly what they need to do to knock off the Bears tonight in Waco to double their Big 12 win total on the season and keep any sort of postseason hopes alive (NIT, anyone?). By capitalizing on every offensive possession (especially in the paint), playing with a sustained level of high intensity and physicality, and controlling the offensive and defensive rebounds, TCU could very well see a victory tonight in hostile territory.