FORT WORTH – Parents are always reminding their offspring that life isn’t fair. Mom and dad, though, never mentioned if basketball was fair.
Baylor came to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum Wednesday night desperately seeking/needing a victory. The Bears also had a full roster of scholarship players plus plenty of size and depth. TCU is down to eight scholarship players and have two players taller than 6-6.
The Bears’ height and depth advantages figured to wear and weigh on the Horned Frogs. An impartial observer would say that TCU was slapped with an unfair and unexpected disadvantage because of Baylor’s long-range accuracy.
The visitors bombed away, making a season high 16 3-pointers on 27 attempts (59.3 percent). The Bears shot “just” 53.4 percent from the field. Add in a monstrous 45-18 edge in rebounding and the result was a 91-58 Baylor victory.
“We shot it well, we shared the ball, we rebounded well,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “In the second half, we defended much better. Any win in the Big 12 this year is a good win. We’ve been working hard but it doesn’t seem like we’ve been rewarded.”
Baylor (15-9, 3-8) had lost its last two Big 12 games, at home to Kansas and at Oklahoma. With consecutive home games (Kansas State and Oklahoma State) upcoming, the victory over the Horned Frogs (9-14, 0-11) provides a starting point.
“We came back from our last road game and regrouped,” senior guard Brady Heslip said. “We knew had eight games left and we decided we were gonna try and make history.”
The Bears won the NIT last season but this season’s quick start seemed to point to an NCAA Tournament bid. The slump in conference play could be attributed to point guard Kenny Chery being sidelined and slowed with a turf toe injury. He returned to the starting lineup against TCU after not starting the last three games.
“We’re a very good team, our strength of schedule is No. 4,” Drew said. “The Big 12 is a great league and we can play well and not win. When you’re playing top 25 teams … there have been eight teams ranked this season. You just don’t have a big margin of error in the Big 12.”
Heslip missed four consecutive 3-pointers before the eight-minute mark of the first half. But he splashed his last try to give restore a double-digit advantage. He opened the second half by making three in a row from long range as the Bears stretched their lead to 60-42 in the first four minutes of the second half.
The senior sharpshooter finished with 24.
“Guys were making great passes,” said Heslip, who made eight of his 12 3-point attempts. “When the other team play zone, you’re gonna get some open looks. Our game plan was to get the ball inside, play inside out.”
Heslip credited 7-foot sophomore Isaiah Austin – “He was killin’ ‘em” – for a quick start that forced the Horned Frogs to switch to zone after freshman Karviar Shepherd picked up two quick fouls. Austin finished with 14 while Rico Gathers came off the bench to score 14 with 11 rebounds.
“We had some miscommunication on defense and they hit some threes early,” said TCU’s Kyan Anderson, who had a season-high 29 points. “With any team, you hit some threes early it gets you going.”
Anderson’s last basket came with 10:24 remaining and cut the Horned Frogs’ deficit to 68-55. But it was the last field goal for the Horned Frogs, who scored just three points the rest of the way. Baylor made the score lopsided with a 23-0 run; 12 of the points came on – what else? – 3-pointers.
“We didn't play as hard as we’d played in the last four out of five games,” said TCU coach Trent Johnson, whose team suffered its largest margin of defeat this season. “Bottom line, Baylor is better than us. Are a lot of teams better than us? Probably. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt. I think we’ve competed harder in the losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State than we did tonight.”