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TCU Basketball Preview: Iowa State

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The Frogs travel to Ames tonight to face Iowa State in what will be another very tough road game.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 6:30pm CDT | Location: Hilton Coliseum - Ames, IA
TV: ESPNU | Series: ISU Leads 8-5 | Game Line: ISU -18.0

TCU hits the road tonight to face the 13th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in what will be the team's final true road game against a ranked opponent this season. Despite this being the last such occurrence, the Frogs have the opportunity to pick up not only their first road conference win of the year, but also their first victory over a ranked opponent.

However, the odds seem stacked against that scenario, as the Cyclones enter the contest as 18-point favorites over the Horned Frogs. Iowa State has compiled an 18-8 record on the year, but the Cyclones sit just 7-6 in league play. Following last week's 100-91 overtime loss to Baylor, ISU is all but eliminated from contention for the Big 12 title.

Iowa State is led by a powerful starting five that account for a significant portion of the team's total offensive and defensive production. Each one of first year head coach Steve Prohm's starters are scoring in double-figures, led by all-Big 12 nominee Georges Niang's 19.4 points per game. The senior forward is also averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists each night to go along with a 52.7% shooting percentage from the field.

Monte Morris has been another offensive machine this season for the Cyclones. He enters today's showdown scoring 15.3 points per game while grabbing 4.0 rebounds and dishing out 7.2 assists per game, a mark that ranks seventh in the nation. Morris went off for 18 points and six assists against the Frogs in late January. Abdel Nader has been another consistent offensive weapon for ISU, averaging 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Expected to be back in the starting lineup tonight is Jameel McKay, who missed two games earlier this month due to an unspecified violation of team rules. McKay has appeared in the last two contests for Iowa State, however he was held to no points and just three rebounds in the Cyclones' loss to Baylor on Tuesday. On the season, McKay is knocking in 11.7 points per game to go along with a team-high 8.7 boards. He is also shooting a ridiculous 58.6% from the field.

The final piece of the Cyclones' lethal starting lineup is Matt Thomas. The junior guard is averaging 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, thanks in part to his 15 point, 5 rebound night against TCU in Fort Worth. Thomas has stepped up in a big way after Naz Long went down with a back injury just eight games into the season.

Iowa State's starting five accounts for 69.5 of the team's 82.6 points per game - nearly 85% of the total offensive output. During the first meeting between these two teams, ISU's starters combined for 60 of the team's 73 points - again, almost 85%. Oh, and by the way, the Cyclones' 82.6 points per game is the 18th most of any team in the nation.

The broken record that is TCU's offense takes another spin this week as the team has yet to break out of their season-long scoring slump. The Frogs enter today's contest averaging 66.2 points per game, the 39th lowest of the 351 total Division I teams. That number has been even worse on the road, as TCU is averaging just 55.1 points per game away from Schollmaier Arena.

With those kinds of averages, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there aren't any Frogs putting up impressive individual stats. Malique Trent leads all scorers with 10.9 points and 3.0 assists per game. Chauncey Collins is second on the team in scoring, knocking in 10.8 each night. One area that has plagued both of these sophomore guards is shooting. Both Trent and Collins average less than 40% from the field.

The only other double-digit scorer for Trent Johnson is Vladimir Brodziansky. The sophomore transfer is adding 10.0 each night to go along with his 4.4 rebounds. Brandon Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, and Chris Washburn all hover around eight points per game, providing little support for the sputtering TCU offense. Parrish has been a reliable deep shooter, as he leads the team with a 41.8% average from behind the arc. Shepherd is the team's leading rebounder with 5.6 per game, however he is facing some significant injury issues.

After missing games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia earlier this month, Shepherd returned to action against Kansas State on Tuesday. After just eight minutes on the floor, the junior forward was involved in a collision under the basket, where he immediately went to the bench and did not return. His status for tonight's contest is still unknown.

The final piece of the puzzle for TCU is true freshman JD Miller. As one of the first Frogs off the bench, Miller has impressed as of late, averaging 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in limited minutes. As to be expected with first-year players, Miller struggles somewhat with turnovers and fouling, however he has provided a much-needed spark off the bench for Trent Johnson's team.

Sitting 11-15 on the year and 2-11 in league play, the Frogs are all but guaranteed to receive the 10-seed in next month's Big 12 Tournament. With the season nearly wrapped up, the last five games of the year have more to do with the future than the present. A relatively young core of Frogs will no doubt gain some valuable experience over the next month that can be used to take a step forward in the fall.

TCU Projected Starters

Iowa State Projected Starters

G

Malique Trent

10.9 ppg, 3.0 apg

F

Abdel Nader

12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg

G

Chauncey Collins

10.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg

F

Georges Niang

19.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg

G

Brandon Parrish

8.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg

G

Monte Morris

15.3 ppg, 7.2 apg

F

Chris Washburn

7.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg

G

Matt Thomas

10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F

Devonta Abron

4.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg

G

Deonte Burton

9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg

Here are other game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

  • TCU is 41-8 when leading at the half under head coach Trent Johnson.
  • TCU will play three out of its final five games of the season on the road.
  • TCU will play its ninth opponent either ranked or receiving votes in its last 14 games at Iowa State.
  • TCU returned three starters from a year ago in Chris Washburn, Kenrich Williams and Karviar Shepherd.
  • All three are TCU's captains this season.
  • TCU has won five out of its last 11 Big 12 Conference home games.
  • TCU played its first 11 games without Chris Washburn and Kenrich Williams.
  • Williams will miss the entire season with an injury.
  • Malique Trent ranks fourth in the Big 12 Conference in steals and No. 55 in the NCAA.