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TCU Basketball Preview: Baylor Bears (Part II)

TCU travels to Waco tonight looking to extract revenge on their in-state rivals after the Baylor Bears knocked off the Horned Frogs last month in Fort Worth.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 7:30pm CDT | Location: Ferrell Center - Waco, TX
TV: ESPNews | Series: BU leads 93-81 | Game Line: BU -8.0

For the first time since... well, you know... a TCU team will travel to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears. The Horned Frogs men's basketball team, astutely aware of the implications of tonight's contest for the TCU fan base, looks to pick up a huge road win against their in-state rivals tonight.

The Bears visited Fort Worth in early January, handing TCU a 66-59 overtime loss at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. (You can read all about it right here.) The first meeting was an ugly affair that saw a total of 53 fouls called leading to 74 free throw attempts. Tonight's contest will hopefully be a little bit cleaner, as each team has improved greatly since the first meeting.

The Bears have improved to 4-4 in Big 12 play since the first contest, knocking off three top 25 teams in the process, including an 83-60 defeat of the then 19th-ranked Texas Longhorns in their most recent outing. The Bears, who have since acquired Texas' #19 ranking, hope to climb in the Big 12 standings with a win tonight. Baylor currently sits at 6th place in the conference.

On the other hand, TCU has proven that it is much improved since last season, but the wins aren't flowing yet. Last time out, the Frogs dropped an 83-66 contest in Ames to the 15th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones. Prior to that contest, the Frogs lost at home to #9 Kansas and on the road to #18 West Virginia by a combined four points. TCU currently sits in 9th place in the Big 12 with a 1-7 conference record.

The Frogs have been close in most of their Big 12 losses, but key mistakes have prevented TCU from winning more games. Tonight will provide another difficult road test, as the Bears are 12-1 at home with the lone loss being a one-point defeat to the Kansas Jayhawks.

For TCU to pull off the road upset, the Frogs need to keep up the defensive intensity that we've seen TCU display throughout the season. In the first matchup, TCU held Baylor to 53 points on 28.3% shooting in regulation. In that game, the Bears shot only 1/12 from behind the arc, a significant defensive accomplishment for TCU against the second-best three-point shooting team in the Big 12.

In addition to the tough defensive pressure, TCU also needs to break the Baylor zone and hit shots in the paint. In the first game, the Frogs were able to penetrate through the zone, but barely shot above 50% in the lane. This almost goes without saying, but the Frogs will also have to be productive at the free throw line to pull off a win tonight. TCU is dead last in the Big 12 in free throw shooting, at 60.2%, partly in thanks to the 53.6% mark the Frogs posted in the first contest against Baylor.

Finally, it will be important for TCU to at least contain Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince down low. Each of the junior forwards scored a double-double against TCU in January. Gathers finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds while Prince finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. In addition to Gathers and Prince, Kenny Chery is the other major offensive weapon for the Bears, averaging nearly 12 points per game. It will be important for the TCU defense to limit this trio of Bears tonight.

The Frogs have proven that they can hang with ranked teams, they just need to translate effort into wins. Tonight will be a difficult test for TCU, but the Frogs can come away victorious by keeping up the same defensive aggressiveness, increasing offensive production, and limiting Baylor's big weapons.

TCU Projected Starters

Baylor Projected Starters

G

Kyan Anderson

13.6 ppg, 3.9 apg

F

Royce O'Neale

9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg

G

Trey Zeigler

9.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg

F

Rico Gathers

10.6 ppg, 12.0 apg

F

Kenrich Williams

8.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg

F

Johnathan Motley

9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg

F

Chris Washburn

7.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg

G

Kenny Chery

11.8 ppg, 3.9 apg

C

Karviar Shephed

6.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg

G

Lester Medford

8.3 ppg, 3.7 apg

Here are some other notes, provided by GoFrogs.com:

  • Prior to its overtime setback against Baylor, TCU was 13-2 for only the second time in school history.
  • TCU is receiving votes in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll.
  • The last time TCU was receiving votes in February came during the 1998-99 campaign.
  • TCU is 29-5 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has now held 27 opponents to 59 points or less under Trent Johnson.
  • TCU has out-rebounded its opposition 15 times this season.
  • TCU has already bettered its win total from a year ago and 2011-12.
  • TCU will be playing its fifth ranked opponent Wednesday at Baylor.
  • Kyan Anderson is No. 9 all-time in scoring in program history with 1,468 points.
  • Anderson now has 20 20-point games in his four-year career after scoring 22 at West Virginia.
  • Kenrich Williams has scored in double-figures in 10 of the 21 games this season.
  • Trey Zeigler has led TCU in assists in six out of the last 10 games.