When Baylor ripped TCU 88-62 a month ago in Waco, two emerging themes appeared obvious.
For one, the Horned Frogs’ rebounding struggles, especially in Big 12 play, became abundantly clear as the Bears commanded the boards, 54-25.
The other prevailing view was that Baylor, ranked seventh in the nation at the time, seemed poised to continue to keep adding sheen to its then-sterling 13-2 record.
While TCU (9-13, 0-10 Big 12) has continued to struggle with rebounds — Texas outrebounded the Frogs 56-25 last week — something has gone wrong in Waco.
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Instead of hitting another gear, the Bears (14-9, 2-8) lost their next five games and seven of their last eight entering a rematch with TCU at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Baylor has gone from a top-10 team to one that will be lucky to earn an NCAA bid, let alone another slot in the National Invitational Tournament, which the Bears won a year ago.
TCU has been outrebounded in nine of its 10 league games. The lone exception was a 26-24 advantage at Texas Tech, which the Red Raiders made up for by grabbing all the key boards late. Although it’s not cut and dried, especially considering TCU still had a shot late against Texas despite the huge rebounding disparity, TCU’s chances of winning increase greatly when the Frogs rebound better.
Against the Bears on Jan. 11, TCU’s inability to come down with the ball allowed Baylor 22 second-chance points and a 44-30 advantage in the paint.
The Bears’ leading scorer, senior forward Cory Jefferson (12.4 points per game) had 11 points and 14 rebounds against TCU. But Taurean Prince was the biggest problem then for the Frogs. He came off the bench to score 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and had three steals.
“They just dominated the glass,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “That was the first inclination in league play that we were really going to struggle on the glass because of our lack of depth and our lack of physicality.”
There are two very good reasons for the Frogs’ rebounding issues. TCU’s lack of depth because of injuries has thinned the team’s forward and post positions. And because of the depth issues, Johnson has employed a zone defense for much of the year to help his players stay fresher and out of foul trouble since everyone is playing more minutes.
“It has hurt at times,” Johnson said. “This is a pretty resilient group. They understand. The reality of it is, it is what it is, and hopefully we’ll continue to get better.”