The Baylor veterans still have visions of former TCU guard Desmond Bane burning up the nets for 23 points last year at Schollmaier Arena.
The Horned Frogs’ 75-72 win late last season put a big dent in Baylor’s Big 12 title hopes as Kansas went on to win it.
Bane is gone to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, but the Baylor players hope to avenge last year’s loss when they face the Horned Frogs at 2 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth.
“There’s a lot of emotions to it,” said Baylor center Flo Thamba. “Personally I’ve never won at TCU, so it’s an opportunity to get a win.”
Like last year, the Bears (10-0, 3-0) are ranked No. 2 going into the game against the Horned Frogs (9-3, 2-2) at Schollmaier Arena. Baylor has dropped its last three games in Fort Worth, but last year’s loss was the most costly since the Bears had so much on the line.
“We always bring up anything we can learn from,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “Last year Bane got going late. When you watch games and see the crowd and momentum and how they play a part of things, you miss that part of it. Up there TCU has been really good against us and we’ve got to be better.”
The Bears are coming off an impressive 76-61 win over offensive juggernaut Oklahoma on Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The Bears held the high-scoring Sooners 20 points below their season average as they shot 36.1 percent overall while connecting on just four of 24 3-pointers.
Riding a five-game winning streak, TCU was playing at a high level with Big 12 road wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State before running into Kansas on Tuesday in Fort Worth.
With forward David McCormack scoring 20 points and guard Ochai Agbaji hitting 19, the No. 6 Jayhawks romped to a 93-64 win. The Jayhawks shot 56.5 percent from the field and dominated the boards 41-20.
But the Horned Frogs have played much better in most games. Junior guard RJ Nembhard is averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 4.6 assists per game while freshman guard Mike Miles is averaging 13.6 points and shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range.
Junior 6-11 center Kevin Samuel is a load inside as he averages 10 points while ranking second in the Big 12 with 9.3 rebounds and first in the league with 2.4 blocks per game.
“First coach (Jamie) Dixon does a tremendous job,” Drew said. “He always gets his guys to play well, does a great job with being fundamentally sound. Kevin Samuel is one of the best bigs in the country. Their backcourt’s been very effective. Nembhard’s taken a nice step forward. He was good last year, he’s just continued to improve as a lot of their players.”
Thamba, Baylor’s 6-10 junior center, is looking forward to the challenge of facing Samuel.
“Every game, you’re going to face a challenge, whether it is a big like Kevin Samuel, who’s very much of a lob threat as he rolls,” Thamba said. “But as far as a game plan, with coach (Jerome) Tang doing the scout, we’ll know how to defend it and we’ll be all right.”
The Bears rank fifth in the country with 91.2 points per game, and have gotten tremendous play off the bench which has contributed 43.1 percent of the scoring.
In the win over the Sooners, Baylor’s bench scored 40 points as Matthew Mayer scored 16 and Adam Flagler hit three of five 3-pointers in a 15-point performance. Forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and guard LJ Cryer have also made strong contributions off the bench.
“A lot of times as coaches you don’t want to have a starting lineup, you want to have a starting rotation,” Drew said. “Basically we have a lot of guys when they step on the court who can help us. As a coach, you just want consistency from people to control what they can control, making the right reads, the right plays, not turning it over.”
The Bears are hoping to cut down on turnovers after committing 17 in a 76-65 win over Iowa State last weekend and 13 against Oklahoma.
“We’ve got to get better with the ball,” Drew said. “I think we’ve had some turnovers where keeping it in one hand and being a little more ball strong will help with that.”