Coming off a blowout loss in front of a record-breaking home crowd, the snake-bitten TCU men’s basketball team (9-10, 0-7 Big 12) heads to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-11, 2-6 Big 12).
The last time Texas Tech and TCU played, the Frogs led at halftime after storming back from a 14-point deficit. Freshman center Karviar Shepherd scored a career-high 15 points, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as the Frogs would make a lowly 20.4 percent of their shots, losing to the Red Raiders 60-49.
Heading into this contest, TCU is still winless in the conference and is expected by Vegas to continue its winless streak after losing Shepherd to injury. The center underwent surgery on his non-shooting hand Tuesday after injuring it during last Saturday’s loss, according to TCU head coach Trent Johnson.
“I think it was when he was scrambling for a loose ball,” Johnson said on the weekly Big 12 media teleconference. “Karviar is one of those guys. He’s always on the floor, always taking charges, so I have no indication. I think it happened in the first half.”
The exact amount of time Shepherd will miss has yet to be specified.
“In terms of how long he’s out, we’ll take it day-to-day,” Johnson said. “The most important thing is now moving forward.”
The loss of Shepherd hampers an already injury-depleted TCU team that is now down to only seven available scholarship players, due to a variety of injuries and academic issues. The Frogs are riding a seven game losing streak headed into Lubbock.
When asked whether the team is cursed or not, Johnson responded with an emphasis on his own responsibilities.
“I don’t know about all that,” Johnson said. “I just know this: we have seven more scholarship guys and several more that are walk-ons, so it’s my responsibility to get them in a position where they can play the best basketball possible.”
“I just feel for the young men in this situation,” Johnson said. “Obviously, it’s real hard on them.”
TCU currently holds the distinction as the Big 12’s worst rebounding team statistically, averaging only 32.3 boards per game.
Going into Saturday’s game, 6-foot-9-inch forward Amric Fields is now the tallest player still healthy on the floor for the Frogs. The junior has averaged 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season, despite being plagued with injuries himself as well. Fields missed a number of games early in the season due to a hand injury.
Despite the team’s bad luck with injuries, Johnson said his team has remained steadfast in the face of adversity.
“The kids have been real resilient,” Johnson said. “They continue to compete. I haven’t seen any signs of them doing anything else. And why should they?”
With the amount of injuries to the team, the Frogs have also seen significant contributions from their young players, primarily freshman forward Brandon Parrish.
“I tell you what, he’s the one guy that always has a positive and upbeat attitude more so than any freshman I’ve been around,” Johnson said. “He shoots it and now he’s starting to develop a mid-range game in terms of putting the ball on the floor.”
Parrish has scored in double digits in 12 games this season. He scored a team-high 15 points during the team’s loss to No. 6 Kansas (15-4, 6-0 Big 12) last Saturday.
“I feel that might’ve been his best game,” Johnson said.
The Red Raiders are also coming into Saturday’s contest with a losing streak, having lost each of their last three games by single digits after beating the Frogs on the road two weeks ago.
“We have not played up to what I think we’re capable of doing,” Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith said.
Texas Tech comes into the game with the Big 12’s second-worst field goal percentage defense and averages the Big 12’s fewest assists per game.
“We’re making a lot of defensive mistakes,” Smith said. “We’re making a lot of offensive mistakes.”
One area in which the two opponents are similar is their above average free throw shooting. The Red Raiders currently lead the conference in free throw percentage while the Frogs are ranked third.
With a home contest against No. 25 Texas (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) next week, TCU may need a win against Texas Tech to keep their luckless season from becoming incredibly forgettable.
Tip-off for Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CST from United Spirit Arena. The game will be broadcast on the Big 12 Network.