Baylor is off to another slow start in Big 12 play, but junior forward Rico Gathers is hoping his team has a better response than last season.
What would ultimately brighten the 21st-ranked Bears’ outlook is getting their first league win, which they’ll try to claim Saturday while adding to TCU’s Big 12 woes.
Baylor (11-3, 0-2) came up empty against two ranked teams to open conference season, losing 73-63 at then-No. 18 Oklahoma last Saturday and 56-55 to No. 12 Kansas on Wednesday. The Bears allowed the Jayhawks to shoot 72.7 percent in the second half (16 of 22), and they missed two attempts at a go-ahead basket in the final 14 seconds.
Kenny Chery was Baylor’s only player in double figures with a season-high 25 points. Leading scorers Taurean Prince (11.7 points per game), Johnathan Motley (10.2) and Royce O’Neale (9.8) combined for 13 on 5-for-19 shooting.
The Bears shot 34.0 percent and have connected at a combined 35.7 in their first two conference games after hitting 44.6 percent in their first 12 contests.
"I think these two losses are going to motivate us for our first win Saturday," said Gathers, who had nine points and 13 rebounds against Kansas. "I feel like we can either take this like a punch in the face and mope, like we did last year, or we can use this as motivation and reach our limit as a team. It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish."
Baylor hasn’t started 0-3 in the Big 12 since losing six straight to begin 2005-06, a season in which it played zero non-conference games because of sanctions stemming from the investigation following the murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson.
Baylor lost six of its first seven league games in 2013-14 but rallied to finish 9-9 and eventually reached the NCAA tournament regional semifinals. The only win for the Bears in that opening stretch was an 88-62 rout of visiting TCU on Jan. 11.
The Horned Frogs have also dropped their first two conference games this season, extending their skid in Big 12 play to 20. They’re 2-36 since joining the conference for the 2012-13 season.
This season looked like it might be different for TCU after it started with a program-best 13 consecutive wins before a 78-67 loss to then-No. 17 West Virginia last Saturday. The Horned Frogs (13-2, 0-2) fell 58-53 at Kansas State in their latest game Wednesday.
"We’ve got to get over the hump. Got to get over the hump," coach Trent Johnson said. "It got physical, kids got tested. That’s all part of it."
Horned Frogs leading scorer Kyan Anderson (13.4 ppg) was held to eight points on 2-of-7 shooting. He averaged 17.0 points in his previous four games.
Trey Zeigler, meanwhile, had a season-high 19 points and has scored 36 in the first two conference games. The senior guard averaged 7.5 points in TCU’s 13-0 start.
Anderson had 29 points – tied for the second-most in his career – in the most recent visit from Baylor on Feb. 12, but TCU was routed 91-58. The Bears have won five in a row in the series and their last two games in Fort Worth, Texas.