Ah - often the most anticipated game on TCU Basketball’s schedule. It’s here. This afternoon. Our rivals from Waco. In Schollmaier.
It’s going to be a packed house.
TCU Basketball hasn’t swept Baylor since 2018. At home this afternoon, the Frogs have a prime opportunity to do so today.
But - the Bears have been making strides recently, securing a victory over Oklahoma, 82-72, on Wednesday. The win was a continuation of their strong performance too, as they’re victorious in 8 of their past 9 contests after a disappointing 0-3 start in conference play. With an 18-6 record, the Bears are now making their presence known across the country, and are ranked 14th in this week’s AP Poll.
On Tuesday night, TCU suffered defeat against Kansas State 82-61. Despite the loss, the Horned Frogs still hold a solid overall record of 17-7. However, their performance has definitely been impacted by the absence of star point guard, Mike Miles Jr., who’s missed several games, including Tuesday’s match. With Miles Jr. unable to play again, TCU may face challenges, but, at home, it may not have a too-significant impact on the final outcome.
When these two teams faced earlier this season in Waco, TCU emerged as the victor.
During the first encounter, Miles made a significant contribution to TCU’s win with his best performance of the season, scoring 33 points and delivering 4 assists, including knocking down the team’s only three triples. Unfortunately, the Frogs are without their star guard for the fourth consecutive game. Despite the setback, TCU has managed to score over 70 points in two of the three games played without Miles. In their recent loss to Kansas State, TCU still demonstrated solid shooting, hitting 44% of their shots, but 19 turnovers proved to be their downfall.
Against Kansas State, Damion Baugh stepped up as a leader and made the significant impact the Frogs needed without Miles, recording 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Baugh’s performance on the court has earned him a reputable standing too, as he ranks third in the Big 12 for assists and fifth for steals, averaging 1.8 steals per game. Another key player, Forward Emanuel Miller, is also making his presence known in the Big 12, as he’s ranked 13th in scoring, averaging 13 points per game, and sixth in rebounding with 6.4 rebounds per game.
Center Eddie Lampkin made his return to the court against Kansas State after recovering from an ankle injury. Although his impact was limited, he has the potential to make a contribution against Baylor. Lampkin, who averages 6.3 rebounds per game, with a remarkable 3.1 coming from the offensive end, leads the Horned Frogs, especially without Miles. He had 15 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) in the first meeting against Baylor.
In that game, TCU was easily able to attack Baylor inside, which really helped lead to the win. They scored 30 of their 33 field goals from within the arc. Additionally, the Frogs were able to earn 23 free throw attempts, which is slightly above their average of 21.6, which ranks 38th in the nation. If TCU wants the win, especially without Miles, the Frogs could potentially employ a similar approach this afternoon.
Preview: vs. Baylor
Baylor holds the top spot in the nation for adjusted offensive efficiency and averages an impressive 79 points per game. Their three stars, Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, and LJ Cryer, collectively contribute 46.9 points, making them the second highest scoring trio in the nation, very closely behind NC State’s Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner, and Casey Morsell. Both George and Flagler surpassed 20 points in their game against Oklahoma. Cryer sustained a foot injury in Wednesday’s game and his status for Saturday remains uncertain; Baylor has announced Cryer will face a “game-time decision” to play or not.
Adam Flagler, one of Baylor’s trio of stars, is the team’s leader in assists, averaging five per game. He tops the Big 12 and ranks 11th place nationally in assist-turnover ratio. What’s more, he’s the best 3-point shooter on the team, shooting 41% from behind the arc.
Baylor boasts a strong 3-point shooting game too, shooting 35.6% from back-there. The Bears rank 28th in the nation, making an average of 9.2 three-pointers per game. Additionally, they frequently earn trips to the free throw line, and rank 19th in attempts, and just outside the top 50 in shooting, shooting 75% from the line.
Forward Flo Thamba, a Senior, brings valuable experience to his team and will tie the school’s record for games played with an appearance in Saturday’s game (which is more-than likely). He averages 5.1 rebounds per game, while Forward Jalen Bridges leads the Bears with an average of six per game. The Bears have a substantial advantage in rebounding, outdoing opponents by almost five per game, largely on the offensive end.
However, the Bears’ interior defense is a weak spot. They rank 287th in terms of 2-point percentage defense. Additionally, they allow nearly 10 offensive rebounds per game and are only 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency rating.
Like in these teams’ first matchup, this is an area the Frogs will once again have to take advantage of.
Both Baylor and TCU boast two of the most powerful offenses in the Big 12. Baylor ranks second in scoring, and TCU ranks fifth. Together, they average 155.6 points per game. In the first meeting, they exceeded Vegas’ point total of 149.5, scoring 175 points.
It will be another high-scoring, back-and-forth matchup this afternoon. Expect some fireworks, and expect some very quick possessions. It’s going to be fun to watch, as TCU and Baylor games often are.
Baylor is likely to rely heavily on their 3-point shooting game, as they made 11 three-pointers in the first meeting. And in contrast, TCU will aim to take advantage of Baylor’s weak interior defense.
Because of it - I anticipate that both Miller and Lampkin crack double-digit scores this afternoon, and the Frogs take advantage enough in the fast-break, and in the post, to creep out a close win.
If Cryer doesn’t play, and the Frogs can limit Baylor’s three-point shooting just a little bit, TCU will have the advantage.
Baylor-TCU games are often close. Don’t expect a blowout here. But - home-court advantage, and a healthier Eddie Lampkin, will push the Frogs over the top this afternoon.
TCU 74, Baylor 72