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January 15, 2014

Know the Foe: TCU

After picking up a road win in a wild game against West Virginia, Oklahoma State returns home to Stillwater to take on the TCU Horned Frogs. The Cowboys started of conference play on a sour note with a loss to Kansas State, but since then have won two in a row and are sitting tied for 2nd in the Big XII with the Wildcats. Two wins this week and the Cowboys will find themselves tied atop the Big XII conference, but first they must focus on TCU Wednesday night.

The Horned Frogs had a pretty good non-conference season with a 9-3 record, but have lost all of their conference games they have played thus far, dropping them to 9-6 on the year. TCU will look to end their three game losing streak and pick up their first conference win of the season Wednesday night, but they're going to have a lot of trouble doing so in Stillwater. While this might not be high on the Cowboy fans' list of games they are looking forward to, this game gives the Cowboys a great opportunity to improve their weakness that have caused them problems all season.

Who?: Texas Christian University
Nickname: Horned Frogs
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
2012-13 Record: 11-21 (2-16); Lost in the 1st Round of the Big XII Tournament to Texas 57-70; No postseason appearance
Current Record: 9-6 (0-3); T-9th in the Big XII
RPI: 162
Best Win: vs. Tulsa (RPI: 104)
Worst Loss: vs. Longwood (RPI: 334)
Last Matchup vs. OSU: 2/27/13 (OSU 64-47)
Series vs. OSU: Oklahoma State leads the series 19-2

Notable Players:

Karviar Shepherd (Fr.) C:
Shepherd was TCU's highest ranked commitment in 2013 according to the Rivals database. The four-star center came into this season as the 7th best center the 2013 class and was the 65th best recruit in the nation. Despite only being a freshman he has made an impact for this TCU team. Shepherd leads his team in rebounds and is 4th in the Big XII in rebounds per game with 7.6. Although not much of his rebounding is done on the offensive side of the ball, he is 3rd in the conference in defensive rebounds with 6.1 per game. In addition to his rebounding ability Shepherd is a good defender in the paint. He leads his team in blocks and is also 4th in the conference in blocks per game with 2.1. He isn't the team's go to guy on the offensive side of the ball, but he is still able to contribute nicely, averaging 7.5 points per game. With Cobbins out for the Cowboys, Shepherd could have the chance to shine, but the OSU front court will look to intimidate the freshman early on.

Amric Fields (Jr.) F: In 2012-13 season Fields suffered a season-ending knee injury that rolled over into this season. He would return to the TCU in their 4th game of the season, only to be sidelined again three games later when he broke his hand against the University of Harvard. Fields returned to action at the end of December and although he has only played 8 games this season, he is still considered the best player on this team and his stats are right up there with his teammates to prove that. Fields is 2nd on the team in scoring 13.9 points per game and is also 2nd in rebounding with 5.3 rebounds per game. He is one of the more efficient players on offense shooting 50% on 88 shot attempts and is 40% from behind the arc. Although he has played considerably well his worst performance of the season came last Saturday against the Baylor Bears, the toughest team TCU has played all season thus far. With the Horned Frogs traveling to Stillwater Wednesday night, it will be interesting to see if Fields will return to way he has played all season or if another tough opponent in the Cowboys will prove to be too much for him.

What to Watch For:

Touching Up:
The elephant in the Big XII this weekend is the big game this Saturday that everyone has been looking forward to, but OSU has to take care of TCU first before thinking about Saturday's game in Lawrence. TCU is 2-21 in the Big XII so far and although their two wins were against some of the Big XII's best, it took those teams playing at their worst for the Horned Frogs to win. That being said I don't think OSU plays at their worst Wednesday night, so it will be a very rare opportunity during conference play for the Cowboys to touch up the weaker part of their game when they take on arguably the worst team in the Big XII, before taking on (arguably) the best team in the Big XII Saturday. Rebounding has been the story all season, but we've seen the OSU backcourt make adjustments to help out their big men in the rebounding category. TCU comes in as the worst rebounding team in the conference despite having a good rebounder in Shepherd, so this will give the Cowboys a great chance to continue to adjust to their new approach to the boards with Kansas just around the corner. I think this matchup will lead to some play time in the Cowboy bench, so it will be interesting to see if player like Marek Soucek will get chance for more playing time and maybe possibly earn some trust from Coach Ford. Of course this opportunity goes out the window if TCU causes problems for the Cowboys, but I don't see that happening in Stillwater.

Where is Brian Williams?: In the last few games for the Cowboys the poor play by Brian Williams has really stuck out compared to everyone else. At the beginning of the season Williams did an excellent job at fulfilling his duties as a role player for the Cowboys, but in the last few games he has virtually disappeared from the stat sheets, and his play in the West Virginia game showed just how negatively he was impacting the team. He saw just only 15 minutes of playing time against the Mountaineers, the lowest he's had all season. Williams may not be the on the Marcus Smart and Markel Brown tier when it comes to this team, but he is a very important player and when his is firing on all cylinders he can make a huge impact on both sides of the ball for the Cowboys. With TCU coming to Stillwater on Wednesday it sets up what would be the "perfect storm" for Williams to get out of his slump and get back to way he was playing earlier in the season. OSU is going to need that Brian Williams on Saturday.

Prediction:
TCU is going to need OSU to play at their worst to beat them, and with this game being in Stillwater, I don't see it happening. The Horned Frogs are 0-10 in conference play on the road and they won't be getting their first conference road win in the Big XII against the Cowboys. OSU wins this one and sets their sights on the Jayhawks. Oklahoma State - 83 TCU - 62


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