Is there such a thing as an easy road game in the Big 12 conference? Is such a thing possible in what has been arguably the best and deepest conference in the country? Iowa State will find out on Saturday as they travel to Fort Worth to take on a TCU outfit that sits at just 1-5 in conference action.
After a season away from the cozy confines of
Daniel-Meyer Coliseum Schollmaier Arena, TCU has returned to campus and the Horned Frogs are in desperate need of wins to keep their season from fully derailing. Iowa State has won two in a row and evened up their conference record at 3-3.
About the Frogs
Right about now, TCU could use a guy like Kyan Anderson. After leading the Frogs for the better part of the last three seasons, Trent Johnson is searching for a leader to step into Anderson's shoes and unfortunately, one has yet to emerge.
TCU is a dreadful offensive team and there's very little that the Frogs do well on that end of the floor. They're an awful shooting team, they turn it over too much and overall, they're the least efficient offense in the conference. Simply put, when TCU has the ball, they struggle to put the ball in the basket.
Given all their struggles, TCU has still managed to be a tough out. They're 1-2 at home in conference play with a win over Texas and close losses to West Virginia and Texas Tech. They also hung tough at Kansas last Saturday, suggesting that they might be a bit more salty than their record would indicate.
As bad as TCU is offensively, Iowa State could have issues with TCU's size. The pair of Karviar Shepherd and Vladimir Brodziansky both stand 6'10" and the latter is leading the Frogs in scoring at 11.8 points per game. When you add to that mix the combination of JD Miller, Devonta Abron and Chris Washburn, who all stand 6'8" or taller, there's enough size in the front guard to cause the Cyclones to struggle.
In the back court, sophomore Chauncey Collins has emerged as a reliable scoring threat and is shooting 39% from deep. Joining him on the perimeter is Brandon Parrish, who is the best shooter in the Horned Frog line up, knocking down 50% of his outside looks.
Defensively, TCU is mostly competent and forces opponents into turnovers on 21.4% of their possessions, good for 33rd nationally. With their length, TCU also causes issues for the opposition on the interior and both Brodziansky and Shepherd are averaging a block a piece per game.
And the Winner Is?
Iowa State has actually been decent on the road this year. The Cyclones got out to a great start at Cincinnati, held a lead for most of the game in Norman, battled back at Texas and soundly whipped Kansas State in Manhattan. ISU split those 4 contests, but could have just as easily won all 4.
The difference on Saturday will be the name on the front of the jersey (obviously). The Bearcats and Sooners were both ranked, Texas is a "name program" and the Wildcat fans always turn out in Bramlage. TCU? Eh, that's a different story. The newly renovated Schollmaier Arena seats only 6,700 and the Frogs have been lucky to approach anywhere near that number. The point being, how will Iowa State respond in a game where the stakes aren't as high? More importantly, after Monday's emotional home win over #1 Oklahoma, do we have to worry about the "letdown factor"?
And if that's not enough, guess who's looming on the horizon? Arch-nemesis Kansas visits Hilton Coliseum on Monday in what is always the biggest home game of the year. So not only is there a "letdown factor" in play, but we've also got the "caught looking ahead" factor on the table.
Then again, Iowa State has played inspired basketball the last two times out and appear to be trending in the right direction. Not only that, but you know these guys pay attention to the other games around the league and there has to be a renewed focus on getting back into the conference championship picture.
I'll take the Cyclones in a strong effort away from home.
Iowa State 83 - TCU 72
Tip: 3PM CST
Radio: Cyclones Radio Network
Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here
TCU SB Nation Site: Frogs 'O War