PREVIEW: Women’s basketball has a chance to ‘bounce back’ against TCU

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Senior forward Laura Macke goes in for the shot against Kansas on Jan. 19, 2022. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The No. 25 Kansas State women’s basketball team (15-5, 5-3) got blown out on the road by No. 9 Texas Wednesday night, knocking them back just behind the Big 12 lead. However, the Wildcats have a chance to keep pace when TCU comes to visit Saturday, Jan. 29.

The Wildcats are looking at the TCU game as a chance to bounce back and learn from the issues that plagued them against Texas.

“Every game, for us, you’ve got to be learning, and you’ve got to be making corrections,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We’ve got a young group, and every game they have to be able to take both the good and the bad and come into practice and work.”

Behind head coach Raegan Pebley, the Horned Frogs are out to a 6-10 start on the year and are 2-5 in Big 12 play. They have struggled on the road this season at 1-4 but did take down a ranked Texas A&M team.

The struggling Horned Frogs are a change of pace in the middle of a four-game stretch in which K-State will play four ranked teams in six games.

“We haven’t paid attention to the rankings all year. I don’t even trust those rankings,” Mittie said. “What I know about TCU is they beat A&M by 20. If you want to go by the rankings, A&M was ranked when they beat them.”

TCU has the second-worst offense and second-worst defense in the conference and is one of two teams with a negative scoring margin this season. Its two Big 12 wins have come by a combined two points.

Lauren Heard is the Horned Frogs’ star player. The guard is sixth in the league in points per game at 16.4 and is the only TCU player averaging more than 10 points per game.

Heard is a particularly good player on the defensive side of the ball. She has been All-Big 12 First Team twice and was All-Big 12 All-Defense this past season. She also leads the league in steals per game.

The Wildcats have struggled this season when teams can put pressure on the ball-handlers to deny junior center Ayoka Lee the ball. It was a key in the losses to Texas Tech and No. 9 Texas.

“[TCU is] very athletic,” Mittie said. “They’ve got physical bodies. That’s an area that we’ve got to make improvements with our team.”

K-State’s defense should give them a chance against TCU’s struggling offense. The Horned Frogs like to score in transition, something K-State has seen — and been effective against — this season. The Wildcats shut down Oklahoma, which has an offense predicated on getting out in transition as well.

For K-State, the opportunity to bounce back and get right before a trip to Ames, Iowa, and a date with Iowa State might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

“This is a bounce-back game for us,” Mittie said. “We were disappointed [Wednesday] night. We’ve got a bounce-back opportunity on Saturday, and we’re ready for it.”

The Wildcats’ battle with TCU tips off from Bramlage Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and will stream on ESPN+. A recap will be available on the Collegian after the game.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.