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TCU Basketball Preview: Iowa State (Round 1)

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Get to know more about the Frogs’ matchup with the Cyclones today.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 4:30pm CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: Fox Sports Net | Series: Iowa State Leads 9-5 | Game Line: TCU -1

Coming off of the program’s first victory in Austin since Jamie Dixon wore the TCU uniform, the Frogs will now welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to Schollmaier Arena for the first meeting between the teams this season. TCU will be looking for its first victory over the Cyclones since joining the Big 12. The Frogs’ last win over Iowa State came in 1997, but 1981 was the last time they beat the Cyclones in Fort Worth.

TCU comes into the day with confidence, thanks to their win over the Longhorns on Wednesday. Winning road games in the Big 12 is never an easy task, so holding on to victory in Austin should be a huge boost for the Frogs.

Vladimir Brodziansky had another great offensive output on Wednesday night, dropping in 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Vlad also was a force in the paint, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots. Jaylen Fisher was another key player on offense for the Frogs. He came out on fire from beyond the arc and had 14 points in the first half. Although he finished with 16, his two second half points came on late free throws to extend the lead to three.

Kenrich Williams also had a productive game for TCU. Although he scored just six points in the game, he was a shining example of making a difference on the court without scoring much. Kenny Hustle pulled down 13 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end, and had five steals and three blocks on the defensive end. As cliche as it is, he has a motor that never quits and it’s no wonder he leads the Big 12 in rebounding with 9.8 boards per game.

TCU, looking for their first winning record at any point in Big 12 play, must now turn their focus to Iowa State. The Cyclones enter the game at 11-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. They are currently ranked #52 in the RPI, which is 7th in the Big 12, and are currently receiving votes in the AP Top 25. Three of their four losses this season have come by a combined five points against teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25: #5 Gonzaga, #22 Cincinnati, and #1 (for now) Baylor.

The Frogs defense, which is 46th in the nation in scoring allowing 65.3 points per game, will need to be on point tomorrow to knock off the Cyclones. Iowa State shoots an impressive 46.1% from the field and has four players averaging double-digit scoring. They also do a great job with ball movement and boast the 5th-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the nation at 1.66. Look for TCU, with a defense that forces 15.4 turnovers per game, to turn up the pressure on Iowa State.

There are three key players to watch for on the Cyclones’ roster, all three of which are experienced seniors. The first is guard Monte Morris, who is a serious contender for Big 12 Player of the Year. He leads the team in scoring and passing with 15.9 points and 5.7 assists per game. He also crashes the boards, pulling down 5.1 rebounds per game.

The next player to watch is guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long. Naz is 2nd on the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game and is also 2nd in assists with 2.9 per game. He is also most likely to pull back and shoot from beyond the arc, as he has attempted 107 three pointers so far this season, making 35.5%.

The last major player to keep an eye on is guard Deonte Burton. He is 3rd on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game, but is 1st on the team in rebounding with 7.1 boards per game. He dominated the Frogs in Ames last season, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. However, TCU, unlike last season, can match up Kenrich Williams with him. With his size and hustle, Kenrich could cause problems for Burton and limit his production.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Fisher’s Offensive Role

In the win over Texas, freshman guard Jaylen Fisher showed another dynamic of his offensive game by going 4-for-4 from three point in the first half. Thus far, Fisher has been predominantly a facilitator on offense finding open people and running the offense. However, since Big 12 play has opened, Alex Robinson has been more of the floor general for TCU. Robinson has been able to penetrate the defense and either finish at the rim or kick it out to an open player. Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if the staff introduces more sets to get Fisher open to score more or if they want him to grow as a true point guard.

2 - Battle of the Boards

One area where the Frogs will have a major advantage is in size. The Cyclones tallest starter is Darrell Bowie, who is 6’8”. No one taller than him even sees really significant minutes for Iowa State. The Frogs’ two starting wings, JD Miller and Kenrich Williams, are 6’8” and 6’7”, respectively. TCU also has Vlad and Karviar in the post, both of whom are 6’11”.

Taking advantage of their height should help the Frogs on the boards, which could go a long way towards a victory. TCU is 12-0 this season when they out-rebound opponents, but keeping the Cyclones off the boards will be no easy task. Iowa State comes into the game ranked #18 in the nation in rebounds per game despite their smaller lineup.

3 - Foul Trouble

Last season, Iowa State used a small rotation and left their starters on the court for a majority of their games. The Cyclones, in games against TCU, only used 8 players at most in a game last season. They have extended their rotation slightly this season to 9 players, but they still will leave their starters out almost all game. The Frogs should look to get a couple of their starters in foul trouble in order to force other players to step up.

On the other side, the Frogs have been using a 10-man rotation recently. TCU has depth both on the outside and the inside, which will help should any starters get in foul trouble. They also benefit from having experienced Big 12 players coming off of the bench, as four of the five bench players that get significant time are seniors. Both Brandon Parrish and Michael Williams provide depth and experience on the outside, while Karviar Shepherd and Chris Washburn provide size and physicality in the post.

Prediction:

This game will be exciting for all in attendance. Some students should be back in the area and pack the arena to see their much improved Horned Frogs look for their first Big 12 win over the Cyclones. It’ll likely be another back-and-forth affair, as we have seen in all of TCU’s conference games thus far. Vlad should be able to dominate in the paint yet again as Iowa State lacks a dominating post presence. However, this game will come down to how well the Frogs’ rotation of guards can limit the Cyclones’ star trio. In the end, I think TCU will make just enough plays and pick up a key win as they move towards March.

Score Prediction: TCU 78, Iowa State 73

Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:

  • TCU and Iowa State will meet for the 15th time on Saturday.
  • The Frogs are looking to snap an eight-game losing streak against the Cyclones.
  • TCU is trying for consecutive Big 12 wins for the second time in school history, the first since the 2014-15 season.
  • Two of TCU's three losses have been to top 10-ranked teams in No. 3 Kansas and No. 7 West Virginia.
  • TCU is 13-1 against unranked opponents.
  • The Frogs are 10-1 at home this season.
  • TCU is 12-0 when out-rebounding its opponent.
  • TCU is 11-0 when leading at halftime.
  • TCU is 9-0 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
  • TCU's NCAA RPI is 29.
  • TCU currently ranks No. 35 in assists (16.9) in the NCAA and No. 39 in steals (8.1).
  • Kenrich Williams leads the Big 12 with 9.8 rebounds per game.
  • Williams' 18 boards are the most in the Big 12 Conference this season.
  • Williams ranks No. 14 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.71 average on the season.
  • Brandon Parrish is a 2017 Allstate NABC Good Works Team® nominee.
  • Parrish needs to play in only seven more games to move into the top-10 all-time in games played in school history.
  • Parrish has made at least one 3-pointer in six of his last eight games.
  • Karviar Shepherd is No. 6 all-time in career starts at TCU with 95. He played in his 100th game against Arkansas State.
  • Shepherd has tallied 594 career rebounds and needs only 106 to become only the 10th player all-time to capture 700 boards.
  • Alex Robinson has recorded 15 games of five or more assists in his career.
  • Robinson has averaged 12.8 points in the four Big 12 games.
  • Robinson, who was named to the all-tournament team in Vegas, has led TCU in assists 11 times this season.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 with 2.3 blocks per game.
  • Brodziansky recorded a career-high 28 points against Kansas marking his second 20+ scoring outing this season.
  • Brodziansky is one of two players averaging double-digits in scoring with 11.9 this season.