Slumping TCU men fade in ‘ugly’ loss at No. 19 Baylor

Baylor’s Rico Gathers (2) and Taurean Prince  combine to block a shot by TCU’s Kyan Anderson in the second half.
Baylor’s Rico Gathers (2) and Taurean Prince combine to block a shot by TCU’s Kyan Anderson in the second half. AP

Some games are easy to sum up.

TCU coach Trent Johnson had no trouble with Wednesday night’s 77-57 loss at No. 19 Baylor.

“That was ugly by us,” he said. “Very noncompetitive.”

The numbers said so — the Horned Frogs were outrebounded 43-29, shot 35.7 percent and missed 11 free throws.

But worse, the body language said so.

“We lost our composure about six minutes into the second half,” Johnson said. “For the first time, this group, this year, we got testy with one another. And it snowballed after that. I’m big on adversity revealing your character and testing your character and all those kinds of things, and we didn’t respond very well.”

Baylor (17-5, 5-4 Big 12) scored the first eight points and dunked twice in the first half.

TCU (14-8, 1-8) rallied, getting within 26-23 on Amric Fields’ 3-pointer. But Baylor got away again, going up 37-27 late in the half with Taurean Prince’s finish.

For Johnson, the sequences told the story of the game.

“We put Trey Zeigler on Kenny Chery — he’s strong going right, and he has the first six points because Trey’s 6-6, 6-5 and didn’t put a hand up and contest,” Johnson said. “And then right before the half, we lose Prince with Amric sitting right in front of him, and boom. So there’s eight points that could be corrected if you just really engage and really focus.”

Fields said the team knows what’s missing, particularly when it comes to effort areas like rebounds.

“I think as of lately we haven’t been tough enough,” he said. “But we just have to get better at it. Baylor’s a big, physical team. But tonight we didn’t show our toughness. We are tougher than this. We’ve just got to figure it out.”

Fields had one of his best offensive performances of the season, scoring 14 points.

“I’m not really worried about offense,” he said. “All I want to do is win — whatever I can do to help the team win. I need to pick my stuff up, personally, rebounding and defending. So that’s all I’m focused on right now.”

Kenrich Williams finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, again earning compliments from Johnson for his effort.

“Kenrich was a bright spot, just in the sense that he competes so hard,” Johnson said. “He competes for all the balls, rebounds, all those kinds of things. But we weren’t very good. We weren’t very good at all. At all. And I say ‘we,’ that’s players, coaches.”

So what’s next for a team that has lost eight of nine games halfway through the league schedule?

Fields insisted on optimism.

“Honestly, I think the sky’s the limit with us. We’ve shown that we can play with anybody,” he said. “We just have to get over the hump, especially in the second half. We’ve had a lot of close games where we just couldn’t pull it out — one stop here, one rebound there, not disciplined here or there. But we’ll figure it out.”

Johnson said it’s simply self-evaluation time.

“We’ve got some guys trying to do some things they can’t do,” he said. “Each guy’s got to look at each other and say hey, look, we’ve got to get back to competing and playing like we’re capable of playing. Then we can have a decent February. If we don’t, then we’ll have a February like we had a January.”

Sums it up.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @calexmendez

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