3-Point Preview: No. 25 Iowa State travels to No. 17 TCU

Dec 21, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Jamie Dixon reacts in the second half against the Utah Utesat Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Time: 1 p.m.


KenPom Prediction: 67-63, TCU

1 – Miles Ahead

Just a few days after Iowa State shut down Oklahoma’s explosive guard Grant Sherfield, the Cyclones will be facing a similar task on Saturday in Fort Worth.

TCU guard Mike Miles is one of the league’s best scorers, averaging 19.9 points per game this season, which ranks No. 2 in the league behind only Kansas’ Jalen Wilson.

The Big 12 preseason player of the year has been playing at that type of level in the team’s first two Big 12 games by scoring 23 in their win over Texas Tech and then pouring in 33 in the Horned Frogs’ win on the road in Waco on Wednesday.

“He’s certainly pushing the ball fast in transition and making plays,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “They’re really getting the ball up and down the court. A lot more pace probably than they played with last year. He’s leading that charge. He’s really aggressive in the halfcourt attacking the pick-and-roll. He’s living in the lane at the paint. He’s shooting the ball at a high clip.”

Otzelberger noted the most unique part of how Miles has been able to play at a high level this season right at the tail end of that quote. The junior from Highland Hills, Texas has been incredible in the paint this season.

He’s shooting 63.7 percent on 2-point shots in his 11 games played this year, which is the sort of production you’d expect from a frontcourt player rather than a 6-foot-2 guard.

“He’s been attacking a lot this year,” Iowa State senior guard Gabe Kalscheur said. “Hasn’t been shooting that much from the outside, but we know he can do that as well. Our focus is just on making everything hard on him. Our focus is on making it the hardest game he’s ever had to play.”

Miles is only shooting 32 percent from deep this season, an improvement on last year, but down significantly from his breakout freshman campaign two years ago. He showed on Wednesday against Baylor he’s still more than capable of getting hot from behind the arc, though, as he knocked down three of his seven shots from deep.

Keeping Miles out of the paint and forcing him into tough contested jumpers will be one of Iowa State’s biggest keys in this game.

“He’s putting together, up to this point, a performance that would be worthy of consideration for player of the year in the league,” Otzelberger said. “That type of performance. We’re going to have to have great intent with him. We’re going to have to get back in transition and make sure we’re not leaving guys on islands trying to defend him one-on-one. We’re trying to defend him with our team defense.”

2 – Finishing plays

Iowa State has been a bottom-100 defensive rebounding team to this point in the season, and that will have to be a significant focus going into Saturday.

The Horned Frogs rank No. 17 nationally in offensive rebounding percentages, corraling 35.9 percent of their misses to this point in the season.

There is no bigger reason for that success than the presence of 6-foot-11, 263-pound sophomore center Eddie Lampkin, who still ranks No. 10 nationally in individual offensive rebounding percentage despite battling injuries throughout all of the non-conference slate and playing well below his expected standard.

“TCU’s one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country,” Otzelberger said. “They’ve got multiple frontline players and bodies they can throw at you. Everybody’s relentless on the glass. Certainly, Lampkin’s one of the best offensive rebounders in America. It’s a lot like the line of scrimmage (in football). We’ve got to control that line of scrimmage we call the rebounding arc.”

Lampkin posted one of his best games of the season in TCU’s win over Baylor, tallying 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting along with nine rebounds, four of which were offensive.

Iowa State will have to have a concerted effort to rebound as a team with the frontcourt players boxing out their men and everyone crashing with the tenacity to go and secure the basketball.

“When a shot goes up, we have to take up the space, make sure we have a body on a body and not let them get clean runs at the basket,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve all got to have a relentless pursuit to finish plays on the glass with two hands. We know what a challenge it is and committing to doing that over 40 minutes is going to be really important.”

3 – Closing out close ones

Iowa State proved it has the ability to go on the road and win a close game when it did so on Wednesday in Norman. That will be an imperative quality for any team looking to contend toward the top of the Big 12 this season.

Shoot, the ability to defend your home court in close games will be nearly as important if not even more so. The reason being nearly every game will be close in this league.

Even if one team starts a game hot, we’ve already seen multiple instances of teams building big leads only to watch their opponent slowly chip their way back into the basketball game.

Iowa State is going to play a veteran team that returned more of its production from last season than only two other teams in the country. The Horned Frogs are playing some of their best basketball to this point, and that makes this game a difficult one to project as a win for the Cyclones.

“Everybody’s got older personnel,” Otzelberger said. “There’s so many more older, more mature guys. I think when you have older players, those guys, they really understand how important everything is. They really set the tone of their teams. I think defensively everybody in our league’s really good, certainly, top-to-bottom. We know there’s great coaches, great players and great programs in this league. Its shows that there’s been so much parity up to this point.”

Through 10 Big 12 games, there have been zero blowout wins by 19 points or more. There have been six games that finished either in overtime or with a deciding margin of four points or less. That second number leads all Division I conferences at this point in the season.

There is certainly a lot of ball left to be played this season, but we should expect each Big 12 game to come down to the final moments. I expect this game in Fort Worth to be no different.

The good news for Iowa State is they already stole one game on the road this week. Adding a second one in the first two weeks of conference play would be a cherry on top.

“Every game is a new game and new challenge for us,” Kalscheur said. “There’s going to be highs and lows of this conference because it is a really great conference, but just knowing to take it one game at a time. If you lose one, don’t dwell on it. Just come out the next day and continue to embark on the habits that we preach on a daily basis. Just know that we have to stay together.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.