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TCU Basketball Preview: Baylor (Round 2)

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Bring your Bear traps, the Frogs are going NCAA Tournament hunting today in Waco.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 1:00pm CST | Location: Ferrell Center - Waco, TX | TV: ESPNU | Series: Baylor Leads 99-81 | Game Line: Baylor -8.5

The Frogs are looking to avenge the most painful loss of the season Saturday afternoon in Waco, as they take on a Baylor team that is ranked as high as sixth in the polls. The Frogs dropped a heartbreaker in Fort Worth - a game that students lined up for hours ahead of time in the rain - to the Bears last month, part of a four game losing streak that seemed to burst their NCAA bubble. But a subsequent three game winning streak, all in Big 12 play, has them thinking about buying their dancing shoes with the regular season winding down.

Meanwhile, Baylor dropped a stunner on their home floor to Kansas State, just days after falling short in their much hyped matchup with the Jayhawks in Lawrence. Their record is still impressive at 20-3 overall, but a fourth conference loss could hurt their seeding come March.

For TCU, whose young players seem to be making better adjustments in round two of Big 12 play, a win against a top 25 opponent and a signature road win are the only things missing from their resume. They can do both in one fell swoop this afternoon.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - The Three Ball

The Frogs had one of their worst offensive games of the season against Baylor in the first matchup, shooting under 30% from the field and deep. It was the start of a team wide shooting slump that cost them dearly over the course of the four game slide. But in the last two weeks, as TCU has gone 3-0, they have found a bit of a rhythm from deep, led by JD Miller and Jaylen Fisher. Baylor is so dang big inside that it’s crucial the Frogs stretch them out by hitting some shots from behind the arc, thus clearing out the lane a bit for the guard penetration of Fish, Alex Robinson, and Desmond Bane. When they first played BU, they struggled to get shots off in the paint, and with the Bears being completely unconcerned about TCU’s shooting, they packed the middle and made things tough. If they want to get a win today, they have to get some of that big beef out of the middle.

2 - Vladdy Dropping Dimes?

Texas Tech did a great job doubling Vlad Tuesday night, throwing two and three big bodies at him every time he touched the ball within 15’ of the basket and making life hard on him if he didn’t get it out of his hands almost immediately. While he did manage score down the stretch, he was a turnover machine (four in 32 minutes), and his weakness of passing out of those doubles was exposed. One of the most important skill sets for a post player is the ability to make good passes against pressure to cutting guards - and with the beef Baylor has, they can apply that pressure with a single player. Vlad has to either shoot quickly (something he does extraordinarily well) or make stronger pivots and better passes when he does get stopped. The TCU guards need to be a little more active in those situations as well, as opposed to getting lulled into waiting to see what he does.

3 - The Turnover Battle

The only turnovers the Frogs can afford today are the ones made by the Czech Stop in West, as TCU stayed close in Fort Worth because they protected the ball so well (only eight turnovers to Baylor’s ten). Fisher has cleaned up his act over the course of the last few weeks after struggling for several games, but he, Robinson, and Kenrich Williams combined for 11 of the Frog’s 21 turnovers against Texas Tech Tuesday night. On the road, in what promises to be a raucous environment, the key players for Jamie Dixon have to protect the rock. With opponents shooting under 40% from the floor and just over 30% from three against the Bears, its crucial that TCU values each possession and works to earn second chance points. Turnovers are momentum killers and run busters, and can let BU run away with this one quickly.

Prediction:

Hold on really quick, let me grab my purple-tinted shades...

Well, TCU played pretty terribly Tuesday and was lucky to come away with a W (though that foul called against the Red Raiders was a completely legitimate call, don’t @ me), and that’s probably something that has stuck with them all week. Jamie Dixon certainly worked on Vlad’s passing in practice, as well as the decision making of the guards under pressure. There’s no way TCU plays that sloppy again today. That being said, Baylor is a bad matchup for the Frog’s inside, and unless Karviar Shepherd comes out and has an even bigger game today than he did against K State, it’s probably a battle they don’t win. I think this one plays out similarly to the first go round, with the Frogs hanging tight and even taking the lead a time or two, but Motley and Jo Acuil go to work down the stretch and wear down the TCU posts.

I sure hope I am wrong.

Score Prediction: Baylor 68, TCU 64

Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

  • TCU's six conference wins are its most ever in the Big 12. TCU is in its fifth season in the league.
  • TCU has three road conference wins in its five seasons in the Big 12 with two of those wins coming this season.
  • TCU has won three-straight conference games for the first time since the 2007-08 season when it was in the Mountain West.
  • TCU has not won four consecutive conference games since 1998 when it went 14-0 in the WAC.
  • In 11 Big 12 games, Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
  • TCU's NCAA RPI is 41.
  • TCU last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 with its last win in the tournament coming in 1987 when Dixon was a player.
  • TCU is 17-4 against unranked opponents.
  • The Frogs are 13-3 at home this season and 3-4 on the road.
  • TCU is 16-3 when outrebounding its opponent.
  • TCU is 7-1 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
  • TCU is 14-1 when leading at halftime (Baylor).
  • TCU is 10-2 when forcing more turnovers than it commits (Baylor, Auburn).
  • TCU's 76.9 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
  • TCU is shooting 46.6 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
  • TCU's 17.0 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
  • TCU's 36.8 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
  • TCU currently ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 20 in the NCAA in assists (17.0).
  • Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 36 in the NCAA with 9.4 rebounds per game.
  • Williams ranks No. 23 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.4 average on the season.
  • Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
  • Parrish ranks 7th all-time in games played in school history. He is 9 away from the most in school history (129).
  • Karviar Shepherd is No. 6 all-time in career starts at TCU with 97. He played in his 100th game against Arkansas State.
  • Shepherd has tallied 614 career rebounds and needs 86 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
  • Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 17 times this season.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 21st nationally with 2.4 blocks per game.

Brodziansky's 58 total blocks ranks eighth for the most in school history for a single season.