Jan 8, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Davion Warren (2) shoots the ball against Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson (10) in the second half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Texas College Hoops Roundup: Texas Tech braces for No. 3 Kansas while TCU hosts two ranked opponents to start 2023
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.
No. 19 BAYLOR BEARS (11-3, 0-1 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 85-56 vs. Nicholls; Lost, 77-62 at Iowa State
Baylor handed business midweek against Nicholls, earning a 29-point victory versus the overmatched Spartans. Keyonte George led the Bears with 21 points. Baylor outrebounded Nicholls 45-34 and held the Spartans to 11% on three-point shots. The Bears then traveled to Iowa State for their Big 12 opener on New Year’s Eve, where they were overtaken in the second half by the Cyclones. Baylor led by as many as nine late in the first half, but a 21-3 run by Iowa State that carried through halftime flipped the game in the Cyclones’ favor in a hurry. Iowa State’s defense frustrated the Bears, forcing 19 Baylor turnovers and feeding off of the energy of a sold out Hilton Coliseum. Gabe Kalscheur and Caleb Grill each went 5-of-9 from three and scored 41 combined points for the Cyclones, while Baylor finished just 5-of-22 as a team from long range. The Bears are now 0-2 this season in true road games, and weren’t able to keep either game close. As the Big 12 schedule wears on, Scott Drew’s team will need to put together better showings in hostile settings.
The week to come: Wednesday, Jan. 4 vs. No. 17 TCU; Saturday, Jan. 7 vs. Kansas State
Big 12 play rolls on as the calendar turns to 2023, and Baylor gets its first two conference visitors to the Ferrell Center this week. First, Baylor welcomes in the talented TCU Horned Frogs to Waco on Wednesday night as it looks to bounce back from Saturday’s frustrating loss. TCU has won 10 straight games, and opened up Big 12 play with a win over Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs are one of many defensive-minded teams in the Big 12, and will force the Bears into just as many turnovers as Iowa State did if they do not take better care of the basketball. If there’s a weakness for TCU, it is that the Horned Frogs allow opponents to rebound 29.6% of their own made baskets. Given Baylor’s 11th-ranked offensive rebounding rate per Kenpom, the Bears should have ample opportunities for second-chance points. Baylor defeated TCU in both matchups last season, but nothing is likely to come easy against this year’s edition of the Horned Frogs.
Kansas State travels to Waco on Saturday, riding a six-game winning streak of its own and sporting a 12-1 record on the season. The Wildcats were picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 by most experts entering the season, but jumped out to a 1-0 record in conference play with Saturday’s overtime win versus West Virginia. The win over the Mountaineers was Kansas State’s first against a team ranked higher than 74th via KenPom, so it’s hard to know how good the Wildcats actually are. Baylor and Kansas State have both struggled with turnovers this season, each ranking outside KenPom’s top-200 in turnover rate – and with the defensive pressure both teams are adept at applying, Saturday’s game will almost certainly come down to ball security.
No. 17 TCU HORNED FROGS (12-1, 1-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 103-57 vs. Central Arkansas; Won, 67-61 vs. Texas Tech
TCU dispatched of Central Arkansas in short order in its final tuneup before conference play, running out to a massive halftime lead and cruising the rest of the way. The Horned Frogs pulled down a staggering 50 rebounds in the game and shot 52% for the game. Mike Miles Jr. scored 21 points to lead the Frogs while making 11-of-13 at the free throw line. TCU welcomed Texas Tech to Schollmaier Arena for its Big 12 opener on Saturday, and picked up a six-point win despite making just 14% of its three-pointers. The Horned Frogs trailed by 11 at halftime, but rallied in the second half to tie the game at 53 with seven minutes to play. TCU would finally take a lead with 3:37 to go, using a 9-0 run to push its advantage to 64-58 with 1:42 remaining. The Horned Frogs forced 23 Texas Tech turnovers in the win, an impressive show of mettle despite trailing most of the game and struggling mightily from the three-point line.
The week to come: Wednesday, Jan. 4 at No. 19 Baylor; Saturday, Jan. 7 vs. No. 25 Iowa State
TCU will continue its Big 12 schedule with a short trip to Waco Wednesday night to take on Baylor. The No. 19 Bears fell to 0-1 in Big 12 play Saturday with a 15-point loss at Iowa State, but bring with them one of the most talented backcourts in the country. TCU certainly has a score to settle with Baylor, a team that defeated the Frogs by double digits in both matchups last season. Jamie Dixon’s team will almost certainly need to shoot better from the three-point arc to keep up with the Bears, who are one of the most talented offensive teams in the conference.
The Horned Frogs will welcome No. 25 Iowa State to Fort Worth on Saturday. Iowa State is 1-0 in conference play after topping Baylor, and is now No. 1 in the country at forcing turnovers (30% of opposing possessions) per KenPom. Playing T.J. Otzelberger’s Cyclones is about as fun as a trip to the dentist. TCU and Iowa State split their two matchups last season, but neither team reached 60 points against one another in either game. With points at a premium in the physical Big 12, turning the ball over and allowing runouts can be a death knell – especially against Iowa State.
No. 6 TEXAS LONGHORNS (12-1, 1-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 97-72 vs. Texas A&M-Commerce; Won, 70-69 at Oklahoma
The Texas Longhorns kept rolling through the final week of 2022, drilling Texas A&M-Commerce in their final non-conference bout before eking out a close win on the road at Oklahoma. Marcus Carr scored a ridiculous 41 points against the Lions, draining eight three-pointers in the first half of Texas’ 25-point win. The Longhorns’ trip to Oklahoma presented a much stiffer challenge, but Texas ultimately rose to the occasion. Oklahoma led by four points at halftime, and by as many as seven points early in the second half. Texas held the Sooners scoreless for more than three whole minutes while steadily closing the gap, and finally tied the game at 44 with 13 minutes to go. The rivals exchanged haymakers the rest of the way, but it was Marcus Carr’s shot with 48 seconds left that lifted Texas to a 64-62 lead. Sir’Jabari Rice made two free throws after the Longhorns’ picked up a defensive stop, and Texas held on in the final seconds for a one-point win. Four different Longhorns scored between 10 and 13 points to lead the team to a balanced, gritty road win at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The week to come: Tuesday, Jan. 3 vs. Kansas State; Saturday, Jan. 7 at Oklahoma State
Texas will host Kansas State in its first Big 12 home game ever at the Moody Center on Tuesday night. Kansas State enters at 12-1 after opening up Big 12 play versus West Virginia. Like Baylor will on Saturday, Texas will look to take advantage of the turnover-prone Wildcats in order to improve to 2-0 in conference play.
The Longhorns then head to Oklahoma State on Saturday for their second straight weekend north of the Red River. The Cowboys have more losses than any other team in the Big 12 at 8-5, but gave defending national champion Kansas all it could handle Saturday in Lawrence. Oklahoma State turns the ball over more than any team in the Big 12, an area Texas will look to exploit on the road in Stillwater. The Cowboys are 5-0 at home this season, and Saturday’s game will be just the second true road test for Texas this season. Texas and Oklahoma State split their two regular season matchups last season, with the home team winning each one.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-5, 0-0 SEC)
The week that was: Won, 64-52 vs. Northwestern State; Won, 86-66 vs. Prairie View
Texas A&M passed its final two non-conference tests to close out the calendar year, defeating Northwestern State and Prairie View by 12 and 20, respectively. The Aggies trailed Northwestern State by five at halftime on Tuesday night before sprinting past the Demons in the second half. Texas A&M made just one of its 12 three-point shots, but out-rebounded Northwestern State 45-30 and made 21 of 27 free throws. The Aggies cruised by Prairie View significantly more comfortably, leading 53-32 at halftime en route to a 20-point victory. Tyrece Radford led Texas A&M with 20 points while making all four of his three-pointers in the win.
The week to come: Wednesday, Jan. 4 at Florida; Saturday, Jan. 7 vs. LSU
Finally, SEC conference play has arrived for Texas A&M as it begins the new year. The Aggies will head to Gainesville to open its conference schedule against the Florida Gators. Florida opened its SEC schedule last week with a close loss at Auburn, and is just 7-6 on the season. Despite their record, the Gators haven’t lost to a team outside KenPom’s top 35. Florida has played a grueling schedule, and will be a difficult team to topple on the road. The Gators excel at getting to the free throw line, and will endeavor to make the Aggies uncomfortable with their faster pace of play.
Texas A&M will return home Saturday for a matchup with LSU, the Aggies’ first home game of their conference schedule. LSU is 12-1, but has played one of the weakest schedules of any power conference team in the country. The Tigers do have an impressive win over Arkansas on their resume, but have mostly feasted on softer competition in the early going. The Tigers are exceptional at defending the arc, so Texas A&M’s specialty of offensive rebounding could be a necessity to top LSU.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (10-3, 0-1 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 110-71 vs. South Carolina State; Lost, 67-61 at No. 18 TCU
Texas Tech blew out South Carolina State 110-71 in its final game before conference play began, dispatching one of college basketball’s worst teams without any issue. Kevin Obanor led the way with 24 points. Tech then traveled to Fort Worth to open Big 12 play at then-No. 18 TCU, and saw a lead slip away in a 67-61 loss. The Red Raiders led by as many as 13 in the game, but could not make enough plays late as the Horned Frogs emerged triumphant. Texas Tech was undone by its 23 turnovers.
The week to come: Tuesday, Jan. 3 vs. No. 3 Kansas; Saturday, Jan. 7 vs Oklahoma
Texas Tech comes home for two Big 12 games in the first week of the new year, the first of which sees the Red Raiders take on the conference’s top dog and defending national champion Kansas. The No. 3 Jayhawks are an incredibly talented, well-balanced team led by junior forward Jalen Wilson (21 points per game). With wins over teams like Duke and Indiana on its resume, Kansas has more than proven itself as one of the best teams in the country. Texas Tech knows it has its work cut out for it, but also knows that United Supermarkets Arena is a difficult place for opposing teams to win. Just ask last year’s Jayhawks, who fell by eight in Lubbock. Kansas’ visit to Lubbock also means a homecoming of sorts for former Red Raider Kevin McCullar, who transferred out of Texas Tech to play in Lawrence this season.
The Red Raiders then host Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners narrowly fell to No. 6 Texas on New Year’s Eve, proving that they are a formidable opponent even for the elite teams in the Big 12. The Sooners are a top ten team in both KenPom’s effective field goal percentage metric and in three-point shooting, so pressuring shooters has to be a priority for the Red Raiders on Saturday. Oklahoma’s defense does not create turnovers at nearly the rate TCU does, so the Red Raiders should have a little more room to operate on offense.
I didn’t see an evaluation of the #1 Houston Cougars, they are from Texas?
Thanks for reading – our talented UH reporter Andy Yanez covers Houston Basketball extensively for us, so this article is designed to cover the other major college hoops programs around the state.
Here’s what he wrote most recently: https://www.gallerysports.com/with-15-games-down-houston-cougars-basketball-is-heading-in-the-right-direction-but-still-growing/