TCU continues to be one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, but cracks on defense are showing.
The Frogs rank last in field goal percentage against and next to last in scoring defense in the Big 12 going into Wednesday night’s game at Texas.
“Our defense is not where we need to be,” coach Jamie Dixon said after last week’s loss to Kansas, in which the Horned Frogs gave up 50.9 percent shooting and a season-high 33 free throw attempts. “We continue to bail people out and get them to the free throw line, and we’ve done it in these two [losses] in conference play.
“We’ve got to learn from it. I think we will. I believe in these guys.”
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The No. 16 Frogs (13-2, 1-2) rank 13th in the country in scoring, averaging 86.9 points per game. But they give up 75.1 points per game, ninth in the league and 242nd in the country. Opponents are shooting 44.9 percent against the Frogs.
“I’m more about the attempts than actual makes that teams get,” Dixon said. “Because that’s reflective of our defense.”
Against OU and Kansas at home, TCU trailed early and big. Oklahoma led 11-0 three and a half minutes into its game in Fort Worth two weeks ago, and Kansas was up 22-8 less than seven minutes in.
The Frogs made up the deficits and led in the second half of both games before trouble hit. Oklahoma guard Trae Young shot 18 free throws, including two for the winning points with 7.9 seconds left, two weeks ago in Oklahoma’s win, and Kansas guard Devonte Graham made eight foul shots in the final 2:02 to keep TCU at bay last week.
“Talented player, senior, been in this league for a while,” TCU guard Desmond Bane said of Graham. “We just had to keep them off the foul line. I think they scored their last basket with 4 minutes and 38 seconds to go. We’ve just got to figure out ways to defend better and get stops down the stretch.”
Opponents made an average of 11 of 16 free throws in 12 non-conference games against TCU.
In three Big 12 games, it’s 21 of 30.
“We’ll focus on the stretch early where we got down, the stretch where we had the lead and didn’t finish it off,” Dixon said of the Kansas game. “We’ve got to improve in that area. We’re not where we need to be, and I don’t think anybody is.”
The Frogs have dropped two home games in the Big 12, but against Texas (10-5, 1-2), they have a chance to pick up their second road win in the Big 12 and join West Virginia and Kansas at 2-0 in Big 12 road games. Texas Tech had a chance to do the same Tuesday night at Oklahoma.
TCU at Texas
8 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU