Scouting TCU – Cyclones look for first road win in conference play

Cincinnati Bearcats guard Jizzle James (2) drives as TCU Horned Frogs guard Avery Anderson III (3) defends in the first half of a college basketball game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Cincinnati Bearcats, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 24 Iowa State (13-4, 2-2) travels to Fort Worth for the second game of its two-game road stretch to take on No. 19 TCU (13-4, 2-2) Saturday inside Schollmaier Arena (1:00 p.m., ESPNU).

The Cyclones dropped Tuesday’s game 87-72 to No. 20 BYU in Provo. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs also dropped their earlier game this week with an 81-77 loss in overtime at Cincinnati.

About the Horned Frogs

TCU coach Jamie Dixon is in his eighth season at the helm for the Horned Frogs. In 2016, he took over a program that was in desperate need of a rebuild and has since turned TCU into a NCAA Tournament team year in and year out.

In the non-conference slate, Dixon’s program went 11-2 with wins over Georgetown and Arizona State. Its two losses came to then No. 24 Clemson and Nevada.

Emanuel Miller was one of five players selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 First Team and has lived up to that honor so far this season. The 6-foot-7 forward is fifth in the conference in scoring and the leads the team averaging 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Miller has an all-around game and can defend at a high level. His length on the perimeter can cause problems for Iowa State on both ends of the floor.

TCU was one of the biggest winners of the transfer portal in the offseason. Delaware transfer Jameer Nelson Jr. – the son of former NBA star Jameer Nelson – is one reason why. He’s currently the Horned Frogs’ second-leading scorer and assist man with 11.1 points and 3.4 assists per game.

After losing All-Big 12 Second Team guard Mike Miles Jr. to the NBA, Oklahoma State transfer Avery Anderson III has filled in with his role nicely for Dixon’s squad. His stats aren’t eye-popping at 9.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, but like Tamin Lipsey, Anderson is a floor general at the point guard position. He played four years at Oklahoma State and is one of the most experienced players in the Big 12. Iowa State can’t let Anderson dictate the pace of play, and forcing turnovers will again be a big emphasis for the Cyclones on Saturday.

Returning starters JaKobe Coles and Micah Peavy have picked up right where they left off at the end of last season. The 6-foot-8 Peavy averages 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game on 49.7 percent from the floor and the 6-foot-8 Coles averages 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game on 47.2 percent shooting from the field.

What went wrong in Provo?

Iowa State gave up 87 points to BYU – the largest total its allowed all year. Coupling that with only four made 3-pointers and forcing just 11 Cougar turnovers, it made for a rough night for the Cyclones.

This Cyclone team has struggled with guarding the three ball on the defensive end of the floor. BYU made 13 threes and seemed to always hit a shot when Iowa State got within striking distance.

TCU as a team shoots 34.7 percent from three and they will take advantage of Iowa State if the Cyclones’ late rotations and poor closeouts carry over. Three-point defense will be a focus for the Cyclones in Fort Worth.

Who can step up with Lipsey’s injury?

Iowa State guard Tamin Lipsey suffered a shoulder injury with about four minutes remaining in the game at BYU. When T.J. Otzelberger met with the media on Thursday afternoon, he stated that Lipsey’s status was day-to-day.

“As far as what that means for Saturday, we don’t know right now. It’s a day-to-day thing and we’ll continue to do what our medical staff (advises) and what’s in his best interests — his health. There’s nothing more I can really say about it at this point,” Otzelberger said.

With Lipsey’s health a question mark going into Saturday’s game with TCU, the Cyclones need to find a way to pick up his scoring.

Keshon Gilbert could be an answer – in Big 12 play, Gilbert’s numbers have dropped slightly. Even though he led the team in scoring at BYU with 16 points. The transition from the mid-major level takes time especially when you are playing the best of the best in the Big 12 conference every night. He has proven in the nonconference that he can score and distribute the basketball at a high level. Gilbert will be a key for the Cyclones if they want to collect a top-25 road win.

What’s next for Iowa State?

T.J. Otzelberger and his team sit right in the middle of the Big 12 conference race at 2-2 with the likes of Houston, BYU, Oklahoma, TCU, Cincinnati, and UCF.

A win at TCU on Saturday sets up for a big-time week of basketball in Hilton Coliseum with Kansas State and Kansas on the horizon.