Big 12 Basketball

Five Thoughts about TCU Men’s Basketball Entering Big 12 Play

Jamie Dixon

The TCU Horned Frogs are 11-1 after playing their pre-Big 12 schedule and are now preparing for their conference opener against Texas Tech on Dec. 31.

With that, we have five thoughts about the Horned Frogs at the break.

 

Don’t forget about our new feature for men’s basketball — Daily Fantasy Lineups. Every night a Big 12 team is part of the Draft Kings pool, I’ll provide my picks for the game, along with my complete lineup. The hope is that by Big 12 play I’m able to put together a full Big 12 lineup during conference games.

At the Moment

TCU had the worst loss of any Big 12 team in non-conference and it isn’t close. TCU’s 64-63 loss to Northwestern State came against a Demons team that, at the time, had the 13th-worst Ken Pomeroy rating in the nation. It’s worth noting the Demons are 8-5 and a potential Southland Conference title contender.

Otherwise? TCU looked the part of a trendy NCAA Tournament team. The Horned Frogs went to the West Coast and took care of Cal and Iowa. They beat Providence in their Big 12-Big EAST Battle showdown. The Horned Frogs took care of pesky Iron Skillet rival SMU. And they beat Utah on the road. In all, TCU went undefeated against Power 6 teams (4-0) and 1-0 against ranked teams.

The Roster

TCU’s roster has faced some hurdles. Guard Mike Miles Jr. has been banged up. So has forward Emanuel Miller. Guard Damion Baugh missed six games due to a suspension. But entering Big 12 play the roster looks healthy. The timing couldn’t be better. Plus, Miller is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week.

 

Those three, despite the missed games, lead the Horned Frogs in scoring — Miles with more than 17 per game, Miller with more than 13, and Baugh with more than 11. Beyond that, forward Chuck O’Bannon and guard Micah Peavy average more than nine per game, while forward JaKobe Coles averages more than seven, and center Eddie Lampkin Jr. averages nearly seven per game. Lampkin is the leading rebounder (7.7), while four different players average more than a steal per game.

Because of the revolving door, the Horned Frogs have a really balanced roster. Ten players are averaging more than 10 minutes per game. They look rested and ready for the rigors of the Big 12. TCU also has depth it can count on.

The Recruiting Class

Head coach Jamie Dixon lost most of his 2021 class to transfers and his 2022 class consisted of one player because his scholarships were taken. He was able to net two players in the early signing period, with forward Jace Posey — a Top 100 recruit from Strake Jesuit Prep in Houston — the big get. Mansfield (Texas) forward Isaiah Manning also signed. Dixon has had good luck in the DFW area of late.

 

TCU has just four seniors on the roster, but one might expect Miles to take his NBA shot after this season after flirting with it last offseason. Dixon could bring in another recruit come April.

The Concern

Health is an obvious concern. None of the injuries the Horned Frogs have suffered have been serious enough to take players off the floor for an extended time. But any time your front-line players are losing time to injuries, you worry. Miles played with one for most of Big 12 action and the NCAA Tournament.

The health of Miles, Miller, and Lampkin are key to this team being successful in league action and fulfilling one of Dixon’s preseason goals of improving their NCAA Tournament seed. The Frogs were a No. 9 seed last year. Right now ESPN’s Bracketology has the Frogs at No. 8. Dixon wants to avoid a No. 1 seed in the second round if he can.

The Big Stretch

The Horned Frogs have a meaty stretch from Jan. 18 to Jan. 31 that includes four ranked teams — West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma (the only unranked team), Mississippi State (Big 12-SEC Challenge), and West Virginia (yes, again). With a game each against Baylor and Texas preceding that stretch, we’ll have a really good sense of where TCU is headed going into February.

I think they’re a lock to be a tournament team, barring losing a player like Miles to injury.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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