No. 17 TCU fell 82-61 to No. 12 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas Tuesday night. The Horned Frogs have lost three of four without star point guard Mike Miles.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Horned Frogs, with star point guard Mike Miles sidelined with a knee hyperextension, have struggled to replace his offensive production. With No. 14 Baylor and No. 11 Iowa State up next, it will be a challenge to secure a win against either team if Miles remains out.
The trio of forward JaKobe Coles, forward Emanuel Miller and guard Damion Baugh have been prominent in Miles’ absence, shouldering most of the scoring responsibility. The three aforementioned players combined for 35 points but it wasn’t enough to match the Wildcats’ offensive onslaught.
Guard Shahada Wells has been terrific when given the opportunity to showcase his talents, but fell short against Kansas State, only scoring 2 points in 22 minutes. Guard Rondel Walker was also given playing time but failed to take advantage, going 1-7 from the floor, also in 22 minutes.
Sure, the Frogs need someone to carry the burden of Miles’ absence, and Baugh is the team’s second best scoring option, but he is struggling to score efficiently from anywhere outside the paint. In his last four contests, Baugh is 20/50 from the field, 40%. Although those numbers aren’t necessarily bad, Baugh is taking a large quanity of shots and it’s affecting the team’s overall efficiency.
Baugh, a pass-first player with fantastic court vision, isn’t changing his role due to Miles’ absence but has found himself with more opportunity. As of late, Baugh’s scoring has been fluctuating but he found his funk in the second half, finishing 5-9 after a 1-5 first half.
The Frogs need to get back to their identity: force turnovers, push the tempo and attack the basket. Without Miles, a player who has strengths that epitomize the team’s identity, playing peak basketball is extremely challenging but not impossible.
The Frogs must search for an offensive flow and hold down the fort while Miles rehabs his injury. At full strength, the Frogs have a case to be the best team in the Big 12 Conference, but at the end of the day, that won’t help in the standings.
Frogs lose turnover battle
Turnover margin has been a strength for the Frogs this season, but against the Kansas State Wildcats, the opposite rang true. TCU had 19 turnovers to Kansas State’s 15, losing the turnover battle by four.
This affected the Frogs ability to get out on the fastbreak, as the team finished with only 10 transition points, less than half of the squad’s average. The Wildcats capitalized on the blunders, scoring 15 points off the Frogs’ offensive miscues.
Head coach Jamie Dixon’s Frogs, in a half court setting, struggle to find open looks and quality scoring opportunities, and even if wide open looks on the perimeter are found, the Frogs still at their best in the paint. As the season moves forward, the Frogs will need to find a way from stopping opponents from forcing them to make plays on the perimeter.
Either that, or they’ll have to magically find a way to improve a Big 12 Conference low 29% three point shooting percentage. TCU shot 3-17 from distance against K-State, which is only 17.6%.
Wildcats dominate the glass
The turn battle wasn’t the only one the Frog lost; the Wildcats hauled in 40 rebounds to the Frogs 28, besting the Frogs on the offensive and defensive glass. This allowed Kansas State to secure 11 second chance points to TCU’s 3, which hindered the Frogs ability to get back to striking distance in the second half.
Throughout the entire season, Dixon has emphasized the importance of rebounding. Of course, winning the battle is easier said than done, but the Frogs have made little progress in the category.
Moving forward, TCU will need to do a better job controlling the paint, and that starts with centers Eddie Lampkin Jr. and Xavier Cork, who combined for only three boards. Numbers aren’t everything, but offensive rebounding needs to be improved so the Frogs have more opportunities to make shots, especially given their poor track record from the perimeter.