Kansas State is coming off an upset win against No. 6 Oklahoma State and plays at rival No. 18 Kansas on Saturday, but coach Bruce Weber is mostly concerned with TCU.
The Horned Frogs host the 25th-ranked Wildcats (11-3, 1-0 Big 12) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
The teams are coming from different spots: The Wildcats won a share of the league title a year ago, while TCU is in the second year of Trent Johnson’s rebuilding job.
But both coaches want to see the same thing from their teams: an increased intensity on defense and rebounding.
It was TCU’s undoing in its Big 12 opening loss to West Virginia. Weber wants to see if his Wildcats can retain their intensity against a team his players could potentially overlook.
“Now, the big thing is you have the long journey,” Weber said. “We go on the road and we’ll see how much leadership, mental toughness [we have], [showing] an ability to come back after a huge win is very important to us.”
TCU (9-4, 0-1) isn’t into moral victories, Johnson said after the Frogs’ 74-69 loss to WVU, but they could take solace in the fact that they remained in the game in the final minutes despite getting little from post Karviar Shepherd, who was dealing with foul trouble, and losing point guard Kyan Anderson because of fouls for the final 6:30 of the game.
“It starts at the defensive end,” Johnson said. “We have to be able to stick our nose in there and get 50-50 balls, and we’ve been very inconsistent in that against good players and good teams.”
K-State is such a team, as do most teams appear to be in the Big 12 this season.
TCU is at No. 7 Baylor on Saturday.
“More so than anything, they’re not going to beat themselves so you’re going to have to play a very good basketball game,” Johnson said of K-State. “That’s been our Achilles’ heel right now. We haven’t been able to defend and rebound the ball to the extent to be successful against good teams and good players.”
Still, Weber sees an improved TCU team and has been impressed by Amric Fields.
“There’s no doubt they’re better,” he said. “Last year, they had a couple guys to go get baskets. Now they have four or five guys who can go get baskets.
“It makes it easier on a coach when you have someone who can just go get a basket, especially in the gut check part of the game. It’s going to be a challenge for our defense. TCU, for me, is a really big game to see our maturity and the toughness of our team on Tuesday.”