Texas College Hoops Roundup: No. 5 Texas looks to tighten its grip on the Big 12 while No. 14 Baylor, No. 17 TCU battle in Fort Worth

Jan 4, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs forward Emanuel Miller (2) grabs a rebound over Baylor Bears guard Langston Love (13) during the second half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Texas College Hoops Roundup: No. 5 Texas looks to tighten its grip on the Big 12 while No. 14 Baylor, No. 17 TCU battle in Fort Worth

Each week, Gallery Sports will take a quick look at the week that was and the week that is coming up for several of the premier NCAA men’s basketball programs in Texas. Andy Yanez covers the Houston Cougars for Gallery Sports, while this space is reserved for the Big 12 and SEC programs around the Lone Star State. 

No. 14 BAYLOR BEARS (17-6, 6-4 Big 12)

The week that was: Lost, 76-71 at No. 10 Texas; Won, 89-62 vs. Texas Tech

The Baylor Bears finally saw their six-game winning streak halted in a tough road loss on the road at No. 10 Texas before blowing out Texas Tech over the weekend. Baylor, which had won 12 of its previous 13 games against the Longhorns, never led in the second half after falling behind early. Still, the Horns never built any kind of a substantial lead, and the Bears were a few late misses away from stealing a huge win on the road. Scott Drew’s team shot just 36% from the field in the loss, undoing an effort that otherwise saw them match Texas statistically across the board. Baylor followed the loss with a dominant performance versus Texas Tech, finishing a season sweep of the Red Raiders to avenge Tech’s sweep of the Bears last season. Baylor led by just four at halftime before pulling away in the second half, outscoring the Red Raiders 51-28 after the break. Bears forward Jalen Bridges posted 18 points and eight rebounds to lead his team to a comfortable win. Most importantly for Baylor, forward Jonathan Tchamwa Thatchoua made his return after a 357-day absence and played 14 minutes.  

The week to come: Wednesday, Feb. 8 vs. Oklahoma; Saturday, Feb. 11 at No. 17 TCU

No. 14 Baylor will look to continue its climb up the Big 12 standings with a pair of important games this week, starting with Wednesday night’s visit from the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners are reeling right now, losers of two straight by double-digits last week, including a 93-61 rout at the hands of West Virginia on Saturday. Oklahoma overall has been an enigma, dominating the likes of top-5 Alabama just over a week ago while going just 2-8 in Big 12 play this season. Baylor defeated Oklahoma 62-60 on the road back on Jan. 21 behind clutch late shooting by Adam Flagler and a strong advantage in offensive rebounding, and now will be looking to sweep a second Big 12 foe Wednesday night. The Sooners have struggled on the glass as well as with turnovers this season, making them an ideal matchup for the Bears if Baylor can execute at a high level. 

Saturday, Baylor will travel to Fort Worth for a difficult test on the road at No. 14 TCU. The Horned Frogs went 1-1 in their first week without star guard Mike Miles Jr, who suffered a hyperextended knee just over a week ago on the road at Mississippi State. Baylor is well aware of how good the Horned Frogs are, having lost at home to TCU in a wild one on Jan. 4, 88-87. Miles had 33 points in that game to lead the Frogs, and Baylor committed 15 turnovers to ruin an otherwise strong offensive effort. The Bears have played much better basketball in the weeks that have passed since that game and will undoubtedly be licking their chops at the opportunity for revenge against the hobbled Frogs. 

No. 17 TCU HORNED FROGS (17-6, 6-4 Big 12)

The week that was: Won, 76-72 vs. West Virginia; Lost, 79-73 at Oklahoma State 

TCU had another up-and-down week in the rugged Big 12, winning in close fashion over West Virginia before seeing a massive comeback bid fall short on the road at Oklahoma State. Margins are tiny in the nation’s best basketball conference, so any wins the Horned Frogs can rack up without leading scorer Mike Miles Jr. could go a long way in the standings, including last Tuesday’s triumph over West Virginia. Forward Eddie Lampkin Jr, nursing an ankle injury of his own, made a surprise appearance in the win – but stellar performances by TCU guards Damion Baugh, and Shahada Wells led the way alongside 17 points off the bench by JaKobe Coles. Lampkin did not make a surprise appearance in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State, a 79-73 defeat despite an incredible comeback by the Horned Frogs. TCU trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half on the road before making a spirited comeback and eventually led 65-63 with less than four minutes remaining. Oklahoma State made the big plays late though, outscoring TCU 16-8 in the game’s final three and a half minutes to improve its Big 12 record to 5-5. Five different Frogs finished the day in double figures, including another strong performance off the bench by JaKobe Coles – but it wasn’t enough as Cowboys guard Kalib Boone led the way with 25 points on the other side.  

The week to come: Tuesday, Feb. 7 at No. 12 Kansas State; Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. No. 14 Baylor

It is unknown when No. 14 TCU will get its leading scorer back from injury, but the relentless Big 12 schedule is giving the Frogs no breaks. TCU heads on the road for a difficult test versus No. 12 Kansas State on Tuesday night, a team looking for revenge after the Horned Frogs’ 82-68 win back on Jan. 14. The Wildcats’ home court advantage at the “Octagon of Doom” in Manhattan has already sunk a litany of strong Big 12 opponents this season and will undoubtedly be at full throat with another ranked team in town Tuesday night. TCU dominated its first matchup with K-State by forcing 20 turnovers and posting an impressive 22 assists, but dominant backcourt play will be much harder to assert on the Wildcats without Mike Miles Jr. and on the road at Bramlage Coliseum. If the Frogs are to pick up an impressive road win, it will likely have to start with a continued commitment to defensive pressure in the backcourt to hold down Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. 

TCU hosts another formidable opponent in No. 14 Baylor on Saturday in Fort Worth, another team that will be seeking revenge after a January defeat at the hands of the Frogs. Baylor’s excellent guard and wing play has made it the third-most efficient offense in the nation, according to KenPom, and the Bears are playing much more crisp basketball than they were when TCU last met them. If the Horned Frogs are to pull off the upset Saturday and complete a sweep, they’ll need to find a way to force turnovers and create transition opportunities against a Baylor team that prefers a significantly slower tempo. 

No. 5 TEXAS LONGHORNS (19-4, 8-2 Big 12)

The week that was: Won, 76-71 vs. No. 11 Baylor; Won, 69-66 at No. 7 Kansas State

After its most impressive week of results to date, Texas is now 8-2 in Big 12 play and one game clear of the rest of the conference with just eight games to go. The Longhorns started off the week with a massive win over Baylor on Tuesday night, building an early lead and never trailing in the second half despite multiple spirited comeback bids by the Bears. Sir’Jabari Rice led the way for the Longhorns with 21 points despite not starting. Texas followed the big home win with an even more impressive win on the road, toppling No. 7 Kansas State 69-66 in a hostile environment. The Horns trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half but ratcheted up the defense in the second half to salvage a split versus K-State for the season. Senior Christian Bishop played a huge part in the second half surge by Texas, scoring all 14 of his points after halftime and pulling down six rebounds. Bishop’s go-ahead layup with 37 seconds left set the Horns up for a defensive stop that sealed the game on the possession that followed. Texas forced 19 Kansas State turnovers. 

The week to come: Monday, Feb. 6 at No. 9 Kansas; Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. West Virginia

No. 5 Texas will take on its fourth-consecutive ranked opponent Monday night on the road at legendary Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, where the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks await. Kansas is 11-1 at home this season and will be salivating at the opportunity to take down the Big 12’s top dog on Monday night after the Jayhawks’ loss on the road at Iowa State Saturday afternoon. The defending National Champions are led by Wooden Award candidate Jalen Wilson, who paced the Jayhawks Saturday with 26 of Kansas’ 53 points on the road and leads the team with 21.5 points per game. Texas will need to be at its absolute best to upset the well-rounded Jayhawks on the road Monday night. 

The Longhorns’ schedule finally eases up a little, at least by Big 12 standards, Saturday afternoon when the West Virginia Mountaineers come to town. The Mountaineers are just 3-7 in Big 12 play, but it is no secret around the conference that Bob Huggins’ team is much better than its record indicates. West Virginia ranks No. 14 in KenPom, in large part thanks to an efficient offense. The Mountaineers are excellent at driving the line and finding their way to the free throw line and force turnovers on more than 21% of opposing offensive possessions. Texas beat West Virginia 69-61 on the road back on Jan. 21. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (16-7, 8-2 SEC)

The week that was: Lost, 81-70 at Arkansas; Won, 82-57 vs. Georgia

Texas A&M split two SEC games last week, falling on the road at Arkansas before pummeling Georgia by 25 at home. The Aggies trailed almost the entire night on the road in Fayetteville and could not do enough late to overcome the Razorbacks despite cutting the deficit to just four in the game’s final minutes. Texas A&M dominated the offensive glass 24-13 and forced 17 Arkansas turnovers but shot just 34% from the field and missed 10 free throws. Henry Coleman III posted an impressive 18 points, and 15 rebounds for the Aggies, and Ricky Council IV led the way for Arkansas with 19 points. Texas A&M emphatically took out their frustration on Georgia on Saturday, dominating the Bulldogs in an 82-57 win. The Aggies wasted no time putting Georgia away, building a 28-7 lead in the game’s opening minutes and cruising the rest of the way. Tyrece Radford and Henry Coleman III each scored 15 points to lead A&M in its comfortable win. 

The week to come: Tuesday, Feb. 7 vs. Auburn; Saturday, Feb. 11 at LSU

Texas A&M finds itself tied with No. 6 Tennessee at 8-2 in conference play, two games behind conference leader No. 3 Alabama atop the SEC standings. Still, the Aggies’ struggles in non-conference games have kept them outside the AP Top 25 as they hope to improve to 10-2 this week. Auburn’s visit to College Station Tuesday night will certainly present a challenge – Bruce Pearl’s Tigers may be unranked but are No. 24 in KenPom and bring with them one of the nation’s best defenses. Texas A&M used an impressive first half to build a lead on the road at then-No. 15 Auburn back on Jan. 25 and won 79-63 behind 30 points from Tyrece Radford. Auburn has lost three of four overall but proved just how difficult they could be to deal with in Saturday’s 46-43 loss on the road at Tennessee. 

The Aggies will travel east to Baton Rouge on Saturday for a second battle with LSU, who Texas A&M beat by 13 points on Jan. 7. The Tigers are struggling, entering the week with a 1-9 SEC record and having lost 10 straight games after starting the season 12-1. The Tigers have come within seven points of just one opponent during that stretch, an early January loss to Kentucky. Given Texas A&M’s current form, it would be a massive disappointment to lose to a team playing as poorly as LSU. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (12-11, 1-9 Big 12)

The week that was: Won, 80-77 (OT) vs. No. 13 Iowa State; Lost, 89-62 at No. 11 Baylor

Right when Texas Tech’s season began to take an encouraging turn with back-to-back wins over LSU and No. 13 Iowa State, the Red Raiders completely fell apart on the road at Baylor. Monday night’s win over Iowa State was a breath of fresh air for Tech fans, an overtime comeback win after trailing by 23 points. Mark Adams’ team looked like the team that was advertised preseason, forcing 17 Cyclone turnovers and ferociously battling even when down big. Kevin Obanor led the way with 24 points for the Red Raiders. Still, Saturday’s loss to Baylor was a mess. Texas Tech kept the game close through much of the first half but allowed 51 points after the break as Baylor ran the Red Raiders out of town. 

The week to come: Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Oklahoma State; Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. No. 12 Kansas State

Texas Tech will head on the road for a second-straight game to take on Oklahoma State on Wednesday night before returning to Lubbock for Saturday’s tussle with No. 12 Kansas State. Texas Tech is running out of time to make a run up the Big 12 standings or to make a run for an NCAA Tournament bid, but plenty of opportunities for impressive wins exist in conference play. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they are catching Oklahoma State as the Cowboys are playing well. Mike Boynton’s team has won three straight and five of six, including wins over TCU and Iowa State, as well as a pair of rivalry triumphs over Oklahoma. The Cowboys rank seventh nationally in defensive efficiency per KenPom and block 15.2% of opposing shots. 

Tech will then host No. 12 Kansas State, one of the league’s biggest surprises and most impressive teams this season. The Wildcats are led by two excellent scorers in Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell, both seniors, and defend the 3-point line better than any other team in the Big 12.

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