Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (13660635j) Forward JaKobe Coles (21) comes away with a steal against SMU forward Stefan Todorovic (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Fort Worth, Texas TCU SMU Basketball, Fort Worth, United States – 10 Dec 2022
Each week, Gallery Sports will take a quick look at the week that was and the week that’s coming up for several of the premier NCAA men’s basketball programs in Texas.
No. 11 BAYLOR BEARS (7-2, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 80-57 vs. Tarleton
Freshman stud Keyonte George led the Bears with 22 points in their only game last week, a breezy 80-57 win over Tarleton. Baylor began to pull away in the final minutes of the first half, extending their lead to nine before the break. They would not look back the rest of the way, extending the lead to a game-high 23 in the final seconds. Baylor dominated the Texans on the glass, out rebounding Tarleton 41-23. The win moves the Bears to 7-2.
The week to come: Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Washington State (in Dallas, TX)
The quiet portion of Baylor’s schedule continues this week with just one game next Sunday against Pac-12 foe Washington State. The game will be played at a somewhat neutral site in Dallas, and is one of only four nonconference games left on Baylor’s schedule. The Cougars are just 4-5 and have not beaten a team inside KenPom’s top 200 to date, but have enough talent to cause Baylor trouble if the Bears play poorly. The Bears rank outside the KenPom’s top 300 in defending three-pointers, an area Washington State thrives and will need to succeed to keep the game interesting. Baylor’s defense will look to take advantage of the turnover-prone Cougars, who have coughed up the basketball more than 21% of their offensive possessions this season. Scott Drew’s Bears also have a distinct depth advantage over Washington State, so tired legs may become a factor as the game progresses.
No. 21 TCU HORNED FROGS (8-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 78-51 vs. Jackson State; Won, 83-75 vs. SMU
TCU rolled over the Jackson State Tigers with ease, building a double-digit lead before halftime and cruising to a 27-point rout. Four different Horned Frogs scored in double figures, and JaKobe Coles came off the bench to lead the way with 21 points. TCU’s defense stifled the Tigers, forcing a ridiculous 29 turnovers while holding Jackson State to a field goal percentage just under 30%. Saturday’s game against SMU looked like another blowout win for the Frogs, who led by as many as 18 – but after a late surge by the Mustangs pulled SMU to within six, TCU held on for an eight-point triumph. Mike Miles led five Frogs who scored in double figures with 18 points. SMU shot the ball poorly all night, finishing just 2-for-14 on three-pointers and shooting just 66% at the free-throw line. TCU will hope to finish games with more fervor moving forward, especially with Big 12 games approaching.
The week to come: Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Mississippi Valley State
TCU will not play again until Sunday when the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils travel to Fort Worth. MVSU is arguably the worst team in Division I basketball and is playing its sixth of eleven straight away from home amid an extremely rugged early season schedule. The Delta Devils have not beaten a team ranked inside KenPom’s top 300 this season, including a 64-point loss at Baylor earlier this season. If TCU does not win easily, fans should be concerned about the program’s direction.
No. 7 TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Lost, 85-78 (OT) vs. No. 17 Illinois; Won, 88-43 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
No. 2 Texas’ first battle with a ranked team away from home did not break their way, dropping them from the ranks of the undefeated with an overtime loss to No. 17 Illinois. The Illini trailed Texas by as many as 10 points in the second half but rallied in the final minutes to force overtime. Terrance Shannon Jr. scored 12 of Illinois’ 17 points in the extra period, leading his team to a big overtime win at Madison Square Garden. Timmy Allen led Texas with 21 points on a night the Longhorns turned the ball over 24 times. Texas was never going to finish the season undefeated and will learn plenty from a hard-fought loss against a good team. The Longhorns took out their frustration Saturday when Arkansas-Pine Bluff came to town, walloping the hapless Golden Lions while getting their starters tons of rest down the stretch.
The week to come: Monday, Dec. 12 vs. Rice; Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Stanford (Dallas, TX)
The Rice Owls will make the short trip to Austin Monday night to take on Texas. Rice comes in with one of the worst defenses in the nation statistically, having allowed as many as 106 points to Pepperdine. Texas is the first team the Owls have faced ranking in KenPom’s top 100, so it would hardly be surprising if the Longhorns reach triple digits Monday night. Sunday’s matchup with Stanford in Dallas will present a higher caliber challenge, especially on the glass – but the Cardinal have struggled of late. Stanford has lost three in a row, but is one of the more well-adjusted teams to high-level competition, having already faced six foes inside KenPom’s top 50. The Cardinal struggle to shoot, so look for Texas to control the game with its defense.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-3, 0-0 SEC)
The week that was: Won, 72-54 vs. Oregon State
Texas A&M played just one game last week, an 18-point win over the Oregon State Beavers at home at Reed Arena. The Aggies pulled away in the second half while dominating the Beavers in the rebounding department and were led by Dexter Dennis’ 16 points. Oregon State used a surge late in the first 20 minutes to take a four-point lead into halftime, but Texas A&M ran away from the Beavers as the game went along. Dexter Dennis and Tyrece Radford were especially potent from the 3-point line, combining to go 7-for-12.
The week to come: Saturday, Dec. 17 at Memphis
The Aggies will head on the road to FedEx Forum for a battle with Memphis, just Texas A&M’s second road game of the season. The Tigers are in the midst of an impressive run, winning six straight, including triumphs over Nebraska, Stanford, Ole Miss, and then No. 11 Auburn. Penny Hardaway’s team ranks 12th nationally in KenPom’s experience metric and boasts an elite defense on a per-possession basis. If Memphis is vulnerable to the Aggies in any area, it is the Tigers’ propensity to turn the basketball over. Texas A&M ranks 17th nationally in forcing turnovers, while Memphis ranks outside the top 200 in taking care of the basketball per KenPom. The Aggies will learn a lot about where they stand – and what they can be – after a challenging road test versus Memphis.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (6-2, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 78-71 vs. Nicholls
The good news for the Red Raiders Wednesday night was that they defeated Nicholls, improving to 6-2 on the season. The Colonels entered the game with just one Division I win, and had lost by as many as 42 points against Arizona. Nicholls still managed to carry a seven-point lead into halftime and extended their advantage to as many as 11 in the second half, putting a genuine scare into Texas Tech before a late rally. Tech turned the ball over 18 times in the near-disaster, surviving mostly due to 44 combined points scored by Pop Isaacs and Kevin Obanor. Mark Adams’ team is fortunate to have four more games at their disposal before Big 12 play begins.
The week to come: Tuesday, Dec. 13 vs. Eastern Washington; Saturday, Dec. 17 vs. Jackson State (Houston, TX)
Texas Tech will stay in Texas all week, welcoming the Eastern Washington Eagles to the United Supermarkets Arena before traveling to Houston for a matchup with Jackson State. Eastern Washington is a run-of-the-mill Big Sky conference opponent, having already lost five games by double digits this year. The Eagles are a relatively tall group, and they rebound the basketball well – but any solid effort from the Red Raiders ought to dispatch EWU in short order. Tech will then take on Jackson State, a 1-8 team who has yet to break in their home arena this season. The Tigers are having a rough first season under head coach Mo Williams, routinely blown out so far in their nonconference schedule. Jackson State turned the basketball over 29 times in a loss to TCU last week, and is likely to struggle with the Red Raiders’ defensive pressure as well.