TCU’s men’s basketball team begins Big 12 play with a gauntlet schedule over the next few games.
The Horned Frogs open conference play on the road against No.2 Kansas on Saturday and host No.11 Oklahoma and No.3 Houston in Fort Worth next week, giving them three top-11 opponents in a row during their only consecutive run of currently ranked teams this season.
“It’s crazy,” senior guard Micah Peavy told the media on Thursday. “… You have to be ready every night and bring your A-game every day. Why wouldn’t you want to play the best teams? It helps your resume for the [NCAA] tournament, and as a player, you want to play the best. That’s why you come to the Big 12.”
The Horned Frogs are one of six 11-2 teams, Kansas and Oklahoma are both 12-1, and Houston is 13-0, setting the stage for some ultra-competitive basketball early on.
“When you’re in the toughest conference in the country, and you’re playing all these NCAA Tournament teams, it’s just a different thing to compare when you’re playing in a conference unlike it,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “It’s just a different deal.”
“Everything’s based on what we are,” he continued. “We schedule our non-conference [games] based on who we’re playing in
conference, and then things change. Some teams aren’t quite what you thought they’d be. … You just take it game-by-game, and then by the time you play them, something else will happen — to them or to you.”
So far, TCU has managed a mixture of injuries and an influx of transfers to put itself in the conversation as conference play begins, but facing Kansas on the road is a challenging way to start, especially after winning 83-60 in Lawrence last season.
“That place is unique,” Dixon explained. “There’s no question, to win there is [tough], and the numbers have shown it. I liked how we played, and obviously, we refer back to it and look back and always look at last year’s games. … While we scored a high number, we were patient offensively in time to score [situations]. We just kind of recognized the situation.”
Kansas has remained in the top five throughout the season, reaching the No.1 national ranking at one point. The Jayhawks’ only loss came to No.7 Marquette, and they have wins over No.5 Tennessee, No.6 Kentucky, and No.4 UConn.
With Kansas only on the schedule once this season, this game becomes crucial for TCU to set the tone for what could be a big year if things fall the right way.
The Horned Frogs (11-2) and the Jayhawks (12-1) will tip off from Allen Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.