No. 7 MBB and WBB battle TCU 90 miles apart

(Left) Senior forward NaLyssa Smith backs down a TCU defender on Feb. 16 in the Ferrell Center. (Right) Junior guard Adam Flagler scans the court while playing TCU on Jan. 8 in Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth. Both squads will have their rematch with the Horned Frogs on Feb. 19 with men’s basketball playing at home and the women on the road. (Left) Grace Everett | Photographer (Right) Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

While both Baylor men’s basketball and women’s basketball are ranked No. 7 and are gearing up to play conference rival Texas Christian University on Saturday, their mindsets going into the contests couldn’t be more different.

On the men’s side, the past few weeks have been a rollercoaster. After starting the season 15-0, injuries, COVID-19 and an unforgiving conference schedule derailed the Bears’ hot start as they now find themselves at 21-5 with a 9-4 conference record.

Just when things were starting to look up, stringing together double-digit victories against Kansas State University and No. 20 University of Texas, the men’s team was dealt a major blow with the news that junior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua required a season-ending knee surgery. Junior guard Adam Flagler said they’ll have to learn how to win without Tchamwa Tchatchoua’s presence on the court.

“Definitely, it’s not going to be easy,” Flagler said. “He’s one of the best glue guys in the country, and he does some amazing things. We definitely miss him out there. It’s just a work in progress. We’re going to figure it out and move on from there.”

Now, after a disappointing 83-73 loss to No. 11 Texas Tech University Wednesday night at the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, the Bears look to right the ship against a well-coached Texas Christian University (16-7, 5-6 Big 12) squad.

“Coach [Jamie] Dixon’s a great coach,” head coach Scott Drew said. “They do a great job. They don’t beat themselves. They’re having a great year.”

On the women’s side, their confidence seems to be at an all-time high riding a five-game winning streak. Following back-to-back wins over No. 14 Texas, Baylor women’s basketball won its last three games by 18 or more, including a 95-50 win over Kansas State.

The winning streak, along with losses by No. 6 Iowa State University and No. 15 University of Oklahoma, put the Bears (20-5, 10-3 Big 12) right back in the driver’s seat for a chance at the conference title after starting out 0-2 in Big 12 play. Following an 80-55 win over TCU at the Ferrell Center Wednesday night, women’s head coach Nicki Collen said they need to take things one game at a time as they prepare for a rematch with TCU.

“You look at TCU, they played us great for two and a half quarters,” Collen said. “So certainly, at [their] home we’re going to get another good test from them. I think they’re going to get some confidence from how they played early on and they’re going to look at some of the shots that they got and missed and feel like, ‘If we make those at home, we’ll be in a good game with them.’ So, we got to focus on TCU, and after TCU we got to focus on Oklahoma State, and through all of that we just got to focus on us.”

Collen said playing the Horned Frogs in consecutive games has its advantages and disadvantages.

“The con, especially in a game that you win by 25, is making sure they understand it’s a new game,” Collen said. “You don’t get to start with a 25-point lead in the second game. You have to show up and compete like you lost the game. The advantage is the game plan is in, you just tweak it.”

Baylor women’s basketball will look to stay atop the Big 12 standings with a win in the second game of a back-to-back duel with TCU at 1 p.m. Saturday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth. On the other hand, Baylor men’s basketball will look to regroup and bounce back in their matchup with the Horned Frogs, which will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center, and air on ESPN2.