We’re coming down to the end stretch of the Big 12 regular season, where each and every game begins to matter more, and more.
This is specifically true for a TCU team that’s been plagued by injuries, resulting in four straight losses. The streak has plummeted the Horned Frogs to 6-7 in conference and down to as low as a seven seed in some NCAA tournament projections. (TCU was a projected #4 seed just weeks ago)
Fans know TCU’s been without superstar point guard Mike Miles Jr. since he went down with a knee injury against Mississippi State on Feb. 4.
On top of his injury, center Eddie Lampkin Jr. has played just 48 total minutes in TCU’s last seven games after suffering a leg injury against Kansas.
It’s been announced that Miles is cleared to play today at 1:00 versus Oklahoma State, in Schollmaier, so we’re optimistic he’ll be on the court.
Just as Lampkin is as important on the offensive glass, Miles is critical in terms of creating TCU’s stalwart pressure on the defensive end. Miles ranks 14th in the Big 12 in steal percentage (2.6%).
This Frogs team truly has the potential to make a run in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, but it must get healthy.
Mike’s significance has been obvious, as TCU’s just 2-5 when he is absent from the lineup. The inherent value he brings will again be emphasized against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Coach Jamie Dixon will look to expose the Cowboys through TCU’s play on the defensive end, as the Horned Frogs rank 19th nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency through their ability to create pressure on the ball and force turnovers.
TCU’s defense — led by Miles — ranks 27th nationally in steal percentage at 12.1%, resulting in the Horned Frogs creating turnovers on 22.7% of their opponents’ possessions.
This Frog defensive pressure will be a significant advantage against an Oklahoma State team that struggles immensely to protect the basketball. The Cowboys rank outside the Top 310 in both turnover percentage and steal percentage.
This ability to create steals, and force pressure on the ball, could catalyze TCU on the offensive end. The Horned Frogs rank seventh nationally in quick points off breakaway steals.
On the other side, the Cowboys rank 264th defensively in the same category.
Oklahoma State had a five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday when it was defeated on its home floor by Kansas, 87-76.
It was the first time since Jan. 24th the Cowboys’ defense gave up 80 points or more. Oklahoma State is holding teams to an incredible 64.3 points per game.
After a rough start in conference, Oklahoma State’s quietly won seven of its last nine games, putting it now in the 9-to-10 seed range for the NCAA tournament.
The success comes on the back of one of the most efficient defenses in college basketball, and the best in the conference. The Cowboys rank ninth nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency through their ability to defend the rim.
Oklahoma State’s interior defense is allowing teams to shoot just 44.2% inside, thanks to a 14.3% block percentage (10th-highest in the country).
The block percentage has resulted in the Cowboys ranking fourth nationally in near-proximity percentage allowed at just 49.2%.
However impressive these interior defensive numbers are though, TCU will counter with its offensive rebounding ability. The Horned Frogs create second chances on 32.4% of their field goal attempts and rank 16th nationally in second-chance conversion percentage.
This is an area where Lampkin’s availability, which is looking better-and-better, will be crucial. The 6-foot-11 sophomore has posted a 15.5% offensive rebounding percentage (14th-highest in country).
If Miles and Lampkin are both playing, which it seems may be the case, this is a perfect spot to buy the Frogs’ bounce-back.
While OSU’s defense is spectacular, the Frogs’ ability to create turnovers can force pressure on the Cowboys’ offense, and get TCU out on transition and fast break, where they’re the most dangerous.
Ultimately - I think TCU’s first loss to Oklahoma State at Stillwater taught them how to attack this team, and how to defend Tolu Smith, Kalib Boone, and Co.
It’s going to be another close one - and Schollmaier will be rocking - as TCU picks up the 68-67 win.
TCU 68, Oklahoma State 67