Going into Wednesday night's game against the Texas A&M Aggies, the TCU Horned Frogs were 7-0 for the first time in school history. But that undefeated mark was met by a lot of talk about how the team hadn't played anyone good yet and how they'd falter when they faced a ranked team.
After Wednesday, the Horned Frogs have played someone good, and while they're no longer undefeated, anyone who watched Wednesday's 70-68 loss to A&M has to feel good about what they saw from TCU. Buoyed by six made 3-pointers and another show of improvement from the free throw line, TCU led by as many as five points in the fourth quarter. A total of 18 turnovers helped do them in – as did A&M having guard Chennedy Carter, one of the best players in the nation, come in clutch offensively to close the game – but it was a valiant effort from a team that had never beat the Aggies in College Station. They still haven't, but for long periods of the game, it looked like the impossible was about to happen.
Now, TCU heads into the next big test on their schedule, as they host the Ohio Bobcats on Sunday. Ohio is 6-2 on the year, with losses to Syracuse and Butler. They beat Ohio State 74-68 last month and are arguably the best team in the MAC. This isn't an A&M sized test, but it's still an important game for the Frogs if they want to prove they belong in the conversation when it comes to determining the best non-Baylor schools in the Big 12.
I wrote more extensively on TCU last week, so check that out for 1000+ words on this team. But for TCU to beat Ohio, they need a lot of the things I've already talked about to work, from strong shooting from Lauren Heard and Kianna Ray to converting free throws. On Wednesday, Ray was 4-for-9 from deep and the non-Heard members of the team combined to go 6-for-6 from the line. Heard's 6-for-11 mark and 1-for-4 mark from three was a little less efficient, though the Aggies are a really good defensive squad, with their Her Hoop Stats defensive rating coming in as the 38th best in the nation.
The Bobcats are fine defensively, with a defensive rating that ranks 78th in DI. They should still be able to put pressure on the Frogs, and TCU can't afford to open the game with turnovers on four consecutive possessions like they did against A&M.
These teams have fairly similar resumes. Offensively, Ohio scores 68.9 points per game while TCU scores 68.1, and Ohio gives up 58.6 per game to TCU's 58.1. But look past that and you'll see some key differences.
TCU is a faster team. They rank 72nd in possessions per 40 minutes, while Ohio is 205th. The Horned Frogs shoot better from three and worse from inside than the Bobcats, while Ohio scores more points per scoring attempt. Ohio's able to score as well despite a slower pace because of how many threes they take, as they rank 25th in 3-point rate. TCU shoots them better, but Ohio shoots them more often.
Both teams have held opponents under 30 percent from three this year, which is a discouraging sign for a TCU team that struggles on their 2-point attempts. The Horned Frogs will have to find some offense inside or move the ball around well on the perimeter to get open shots.
This will be a good one, as TCU knows they can't afford to drop two in a row against quality opponents if they want to have some momentum as Big 12 conference play approaches.
You can catch this game on Sunday at 2 p.m. on Horned Frogs TV or in Fort Worth at Schollmaier Arena.
Other Games Of Note
There are only six women's college basketball games on Friday, and none feature Texas schools. Find a girl's high school game to attend.
Texas Southern at No. 17 Gonzaga
Houston Baptist at Texas Tech
Houston at No. 11 Texas A&M
Prairie View A&M at Rice