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TCU Basketball Preview: Iowa State

The Frogs have had plenty of time to recover from a disappointing loss in Stillwater

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 1:00 PM CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena – Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Iowa State leads 11-9 | Game Line: TCU -5.5

The TCU Horned Frogs (17-9) will look to end their recent slide against a team they’ve already upset once this season: the #19 Iowa State Cyclones (19-7). The Frogs had a rough go of it in Stillwater on Monday, dropping a game to OSU 68-61. Desmond Bane and Alex Robinson combined for the team lead with 19 points each, joined by JD Miller who had 11. The offense sputtered in another game without Kouat Noi, and now the Frogs will need a a large slate of things to go their way for a March Madness bid. That being said, this team still has plenty to play for.

The Cyclones are coming off a disappointing loss of their own, as they dropped a home game against Baylor, 73-69. Marial Shayok was his normal self, scoring 20 points, but Lindell Wigginton was the only other Cyclone in double figure with 10 points. Baylor grabbed 18 rebounds and won the rebounding battle overall by a whopping 16. The only other game Iowa State has played since the February 9th bout with the Frogs was a road win over Kansas State.

Here is the game preview from the last Iowa State game.

Projected Starting Five

#3 Marial Shayok (Senior from Ottawa, ON)

2018-19 Stats: 19.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 49/38/89 shooting splits

Shayok was a bit cold from three last time against the Frogs, but still worked his way to the line en route to 24 points. The Cyclones rely on Shayok for a fair amount, he recently had a 13 point 13 rebound game against KSU, and he’ll need to get hot much earlier compared to last time out. It’s incredible to see how far he’s come since transferring from Virginia, which just goes to show how much success in college basketball can be determined by scheme fit. The Cyclones will unleash Shayok again, especially from three, and the Frogs can’t rely on another 1/7 performance from deep.

#11 Talen Horton-Tucker (Freshman from Chicago, IL)

2018-19 Stats: 12.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 41/32/61 shooting splits

Horton-Tucker went crazy against Kansas State, draining 6/9 three pointers on Dean Wade despite shooting only 29% in all other Big 12 games this season. It was certainly a welcome sight for ISU fans who saw him struggle mightily against TCU. However, he immediately reverted back to subpar play in the loss to Baylor. Horton-Tucker is a phenomenally talented freshman, but that’s exactly what he is: a freshman. His up and down play should be no surprise, and any level of performance from the high flying youngster can be expected on Saturday.

#12 Michael Jacobson (Junior from Waukee, IA)

2018-19 Stats: 11.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 59/31/68 shooting splits

Jacobson reverted to early season form early on against TCU, draining mid range shots and attacking Kevin Samuel at the rim. For some reason, the Cyclones stopped feeding him, and that worked to the Frogs’ eventual benefit. Jacobson has remained largely ignored by the Cyclones offense despite him enjoying a very solid month of February statistically. We’ll see how involved Jacobson is in the rematch, especially considering TCU’s weak interior D. It would be in our best interests if Jacobson is sidelined again.

#1 Nick Weiler-Babb (Senior from Arlington, TX)

2018-19 Stats: 9.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 42/39/75 shooting splits

Weiler-Babb had a nice game from three against TCU, and has been the solid distributor of old in the past two games. He remains the glue of the team, logging the second most minutes of any player in the Big 12, and can be all over the floor where Steve Prohm needs him. We’ll see which version of Weiler-Babb shows up on Saturday. Will it be the knock down three point shooter? The veteran point guard? The silent leader? He can fill any, or multiple, of these roles in any given game.

#22 Tyrese Halliburton (Freshman from Oshkosh, WI)

2018-19 Stats: 7.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 54/46/65 shooting splits

On a personal level, Halliburton is on an extended dry spell. He’s broken 10 points only once since January 5, and he’s averaging just 4 points on 40/44/0 shooting splits over the last 3 games. Still, when he’s on the court the offense just flows, with his offensive rating still second in the nation. He can get involved in all aspects on the court, he had 5 assists against KSU, so look for #22 to make some kind of impact even if the ball isn’t in his hands all that often.

Projected Reserves

#5 Lindell Wigginton (Sophomore from Dartmouth, NS)

2018-19 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 40/38/75 shooting splits

Wigginton has continued to heat up after a slow start coming off injury. His game leading 23 points against Kansas State speak volumes towards his scoring ability. He’s been lethal from three as of late, and played just as bad as you’ll see him play against TCU. Frog fans have gotten to see Wigginton three times in his short career, and anyone who’s watched him knows how scary he can be with the ball in his hands. Look for Wigginton to attack early and often after he subs in, looking for a rhythm after a subpar performance against Baylor.

#2 Cameron Lard (Sophomore from Natchitoches, LA)

2018-19 Stats: 5.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 68/0/75 shooting splits

Lard was huge on the glass in the first matchup, and I expect the talented sophomore to see extended time in this matchup against a smaller TCU frontline. If he could just limit his fouling, something he didn’t have a problem with his freshman year, then he has a chance to have one of his biggest games of the season.

#23 Zoran Talley (Senior from Merrillville, IN)

2018-19 Stats: 1.4 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, 61/0/0 shooting splits

You may notice this rotation section is much shorter than the first game. The easy answer is that it is now clear that Iowa State has shrunken their rotation to only 8 players, with even Talley only getting a little bit of run. Talley played reasonably well in the first TCU game, but his playing time is so erratic that it’s hard to predict he’ll do much in this go around.

Three Things to Look For

Wherefore Art Thou, Kouat?

Kouat Noi is a huge part of this team’s identity. It’s such an obvious statement, but sometimes you have to say the obvious part out loud, lest you take it for granted. The offense looks completely lost without Noi out there, and for good reason. Desmond Bane is the only true shooter left on the team at that point. As good as players like A Rob, JD Miller, and Kendric Davis are, they all have a slashing style that needs spot up three point shooters to make it work. This especially hits hard after the loss of Jaylen Fisher. Noi should be back for this game, which should at minimum mean more points on the board.

A High Flying Gang

Iowa State is one of the few teams in the country that uses their bench the same amount (or less) than the Frogs. It’s a chance for players like Kendric Davis and Alex Robinson to get out and run, hopefully drawing fouls and getting plenty of chances at the line. The Frogs ability to attack the rim and get second and third chances at points is a large reason why they did so well last time out.

No Big Holes

Against the two Oklahoma schools, the Frogs have put themselves in holes that have taken Herculean efforts to recover from in the second half. These initial deficits have proved too large to overcome in the end. The Frogs don’t need to take it to them like they did last game, but they do need to play a competitive 40 minutes. Especially with the lack of offensive firepower relative to earlier this season, the Frogs simply aren’t built to recover that volume of points.


I predicted a big loss for the Frogs in Ames, and they proved me wrong. I then predicted two straight wins over the Oklahoma schools. They lost both. I think the key is for me to pick against the Frogs, obviously.

All kidding aside, the Frogs will have a tough time this game. Iowa State will be itching to avenge both their recent loss to Baylor as well as the shellacking that the Frogs gave them on their home court. The Frogs are playing their worst basketball of the season, though the return of Kouat Noi should help. I don’t think the Frogs get destroyed, but it’s hard to see how they’ll keep up.

Prediction: #19 Iowa State 80, TCU 75

Here are the game notes, courtesy of

  • TCU will try to sweep the season series with Iowa State Saturday at 1 p.m. In the first meeting on Feb. 9, behind a career-high 22 points by freshman Kendric Davis, the Frogs beat the No. 17-ranked Cyclones, 92-83, their first win over a ranked team in 21 years.
  • The Frogs are 20-29 in Big 12 play under Jamie Dixon after going 9-9 last season, the most in their six seasons of the Big 12.
  • Alex Robinson ranks sixth in the nation at 7.0 assists per game. He is TCU’s all-time assist leader, eclipsing the previous mark of 575 career assists against Oklahoma State. Robinson was Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
  • TCU and Kansas are the only Big 12 teams with two players in the top 10 in the conference in scoring. TCU with Desmond Bane (7th/15.0 and Kouat Noi (9th/14.8) and KU with Dedric Lawson (1st/19.2) and Legerald Vick (10th/14.1). TCU was has been without Noi (ankle) for the past two games.
  • Kevin Samuel ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 2.1 blocks per game and has recorded multiple blocks in nine of his last 11 games. His 55 blocked shots is the most ever by a TCU freshman. He also ranks fourth in the Big 12, first among freshman, with 7.2 rebounds per game.
  • Desmond Bane (vs. OSU), Alex Robinson (at BU) and JD Miller (vs. KU) each went over 1,000 career points recently. TCU is one of six teams in the nation with three 1,000 point scorers on its roster.
  • The Horned Frogs rank 19th in the nation with 16.5 assists per game.
  • On TCU’s current roster, only four played in a Big 12 game prior to this season. Six are freshmen or redshirt freshmen