Feb 26, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Davion Warren (2) guards TCU Horned Frogs forward Emanuel Miller (2) in the first half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Texas College Hoops Roundup: The stage is set for Big 12 play to begin, highlighted by Texas Tech-No. 18 TCU on New Year’s Eve
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. 12 BAYLOR BEARS (10-2, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 58-48 vs. Northwestern State
Baylor topped the Northwestern State Demons by 10 in its only game of Christmas week. The Bears struggled to pull away early as Northwestern State’s extremely slow play-style seemed to be working. In the second half, Baylor began to find better looks on offense and extended for the double-digit win. Scott Drew’s team played Tuesday night’s game without star guard Adam Flagler, and Jalen Bridges led the way with 13 points.
The week to come: Wednesday, Dec. 28 vs. Nicholls; Saturday, Dec. 31 at Iowa State
Baylor will take on Nicholls Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center in its final tune-up before Big 12 play begins. Nicholls’ best win was against KenPom’s No. 181 San Diego, but the Colonels stayed within single digits when they visited Texas Tech and Mississippi State. Baylor ought to have its way with Nicholls but would do well not to look forward to Saturday’s Big 12 opener. That game will be on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones, one of the nation’s best defensive teams. Second-year coach T.J. Otzelberger has the Cyclones completely bought in on creating havoc, and they lead the country with 31% of opposing possessions ending in a turnover. The Bears will need to take care of the basketball if they want to win Saturday’s road test. If they can do that, Baylor has a distinct rebounding advantage and could pull away from a Cyclones’ team ranking just 125th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric.
No. 18 TCU HORNED FROGS (10-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 75-71 at Utah
The TCU Horned Frogs passed their final true test before conference play with a gutsy 75-71 win on the road in Salt Lake City. Utah fans filled less than 40% of Vivint Arena’s capacity, and TCU led for the overwhelming majority of the night without ever truly pulling away. The Utes and Horned Frogs were close to even in shooting percentages and on the glass, but TCU made its mark on the game by forcing 19 Utah turnovers while only committing 10. Utah pulled within a point of the Horned Frogs with just over six minutes left, but Chuck O’Bannon’s three-pointer put TCU up four points moments later. Utah would never draw any closer the rest of the game. Emanuel Miller led the Frogs with 21 points, and Mike Miles Jr. poured in 18.
The week to come: Wednesday, Dec. 21 vs. Central Arkansas; Saturday, Dec. 31 vs. Texas Tech
TCU’s final game before Big 12 play starts Saturday is Wednesday night against the Central Arkansas Bears at Schollmaier Arena. Central Arkansas has yet to stay competitive with a team inside KenPom’s top 150, so the Frogs should not have too much trouble. The real challenge arrives at TCU’s doorstep Saturday afternoon against Texas Tech. Mark Adams’ Red Raiders are an extremely physical, defensive-minded team that split two matchups with the Horned Frogs last season. Texas Tech is led by do-it-all senior Kevin Obanor, who averages 15.9 points per game this year. The Red Raiders advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen last season and have similar potential in 2022-2023. If the Red Raiders have a clear weakness, it is that they turn the basketball over on almost 20% of their possessions.
No. 6 TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 100-72 vs. Louisiana
Despite Louisiana’s 10-1 record entering Wednesday night’s trip to the Moody Center, Texas dominated the Ragin’ Cajuns wire-to-wire in a 28-point win. The Longhorns scored 57 points in the first half, opening up a 22-point lead at the break they would never come close to relinquishing. Texas shot a ridiculous 54% from three-point range and was led by Arterio Morris’ 25-point outburst off the bench.
The week to come: Tuesday, Dec. 27 vs. Texas A&M-Commerce; Saturday, Dec. 31 at Oklahoma
The Longhorns will wrap up their pre-Big 12 schedule against the Lions of Texas A&M-Commerce on Tuesday night at the Moody Center. The Lions enter Tuesday’s game having lost five straight, none of which came against teams near Texas’ caliber. The Horns ought to roll before heading to Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday. Texas’ trip to battle its rival from north of the Red River presents a stiff challenge. The Sooners are rapidly improving under second-year head coach Porter Moser and are in KenPom’s top 10 in both three-point shooting and effective field goal percentage entering this week. Oklahoma has not played since Dec. 20, when the Sooners topped Florida 62-53 at the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte. If the Sooners are to pull off the small home upset, it would likely be because they out-shoot the Longhorns from three.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-5, 0-0 SEC)
The week that was: Lost, 67-61 vs. Wofford
Texas A&M’s lone game of Christmas week was a disappointing home loss to the Wofford Terriers out of the Southern Conference. Freshman Jackson Paveletzke led the Terriers Tuesday afternoon with 22 points in a game the Aggies led by as many as 10 in the second half before Wofford took over. The Terriers outscored Texas A&M 35-20 over the game’s final 16:25, outrebounded the Aggies, and turned the ball over less often. The disappointing loss leaves A&M just 6-5 heading into the final week of the calendar year.
The week to come: Tuesday, Dec. 27 vs. Northwestern State; Friday, Dec. 30 vs. Prairie View
Texas A&M has two more games at Reed Arena this week before beginning SEC games as the new year arrives. The Aggies will first host Northwestern State, a team that toppled TCU earlier this year and hung within 10 points of Baylor just last week. The Demons will likely try to slow the game down to a crawl as they did against the Baylor Bears, forcing the Aggies to play a disciplined brand of basketball to win. Texas A&M has more than enough talent to pull away, but nothing is guaranteed. The Aggies’ second game of the week welcomes Prairie View to Reed Arena from just 45 minutes southeast of College Station. The Panthers picked up a surprising win over Washington State back in November but enter Friday’s game having lost six straight. The Aggies should not have trouble with Prairie View.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (9-2, 0-0 Big 12)
The week that was: Won, 111-67 vs. Houston Christian
Texas Tech obliterated Houston Christian by 44 points while shooting over 60% from the field Wednesday night in Lubbock. The Red Raiders forced 24 turnovers and were led by 22 points apiece from Kevin Obanor and De’Vion Harmon. The win was Texas Tech’s fifth straight.
The week to come: Tuesday, Dec. 27 vs. South Carolina State; Saturday, Dec. 31 at No. 18 TCU
The Red Raiders will take on South Carolina State on Tuesday night in Lubbock in what should amount to a glorified walkthrough before Big 12 play starts on Saturday. If Texas Tech struggles with the Bulldogs, it would be a sign that it is far from ready for Big 12 play. Tech travels to No. 18 TCU to kick off Big 12 play Saturday. The Red Raiders and Horned Frogs split their two games last season, and TCU enters Saturday’s showdown having won eight straight games. As is standard under head coach Mark Adams, Texas Tech will lean on its defense on the road in Fort Worth. If the Horned Frogs have an obvious flaw, it is three-point shooting – TCU ranks just 297th nationally in that category, making just 30.6% of its three-pointers. Several different Horned Frogs have led games in scoring this season, but it would seem wise for the Red Raiders to keep guard Mike Miles Jr. at bay if they’re hoping to kick off Big 12 play with an impressive road win.