Scouting TCU: Cyclones prepped for opportunity in latest Hilton contest

Jan 27, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Jamie Dixon talks with his team during the second half against the Baylor Bears at Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Iowa State (17-5, 6-3) hosts the TCU Horned Frogs (16-6, 5-4) on Saturday afternoon inside Hilton Coliseum (1:00 p.m., ESPN2).

The Cyclones are coming off a 70-65 road win at Texas on Tuesday night in a game where Iowa State led from start to finish.

TCU just finished a stretch where it won three of its last four games, but most recently suffered a 77-66 home loss to Texas last Saturday.

About TCU

Horned Frogs coach Jamie Dixon has put together a roster capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. His team currently sits in a tie for fifth place at 5-4 in league play.

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has nine teams from the Big 12 conference making the NCAA Tournament with two teams just outside on the bubble. Lunardi has TCU as a 10-seed and Iowa State as a 4-seed in his latest projection.

Preseason first team all-Big 12 forward Emanuel Miller has continued to live up to his offseason honors. The 6-foot-7 senior ranks sixth in scoring in the Big 12 at at 16.4 points per game. Miller also averages a team-high in rebounds at 5.9 per game. In the first matchup between the two teams, the Cyclones were able to hold Miller to 10 points on 3-8 shooting in 33 minutes. They also forced Miller into four turnovers.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi transfer Trevian Tennyson is one of the Big 12 conference’s best shooters. His 47.0 percent mark from behind the arc is third best only behind Chance McMillian of Texas Tech (49.1) and Trevin Knell of BYU (48.5). The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 10.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Tennyson led the Horned Frogs in scoring with 19 points on 6-10 shooting from the field and 3-7 from 3-point range in the first meeting.

With league play in full swing, TCU has seen an uptick in production from Chuck O’Bannon Jr. The 6-foot-7 senior hasn’t played the minutes like he has in years past but has made the most of them in Big 12 play. On the season, O’Bannon averages 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game on 47.0 percent shooting from the field and 41.9 from behind the arc. In the Horned Frogs’ triple overtime win against Baylor, O’Bannon scored 11 points in 23 minutes on four of six shooting including three of four from three-point range.

TCU guards Avery Anderson III and Jameer Nelson Jr. have split time at the point guard position. The Oklahoma State transfer in Anderson is more of a pass-first point guard. His offensive production has significantly dropped from his years as a Cowboy, but his passing remains his strength. Iowa State was able to force Anderson into seven turnovers in the first meeting and will have to repeat that effort on Saturday.

Nelson, a Delaware transfer, is the opposite of Anderson. He is a volume shooter and a high-level scorer. The senior guard is averaging 11.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He also has a team-high in steals per game at 2.3. Nelson has shown his prolific scoring ability during Big 12 play as poured in a season-high 30 points in TCU’s win against Baylor two weeks ago.

3 Keys to Victory over TCU

Force turnovers

The biggest key to victory for most games that the Cyclones have played this year comes in forcing turnovers. T.J. Otzelberger’s team is at its best when they are forcing their opponents into mistakes and converting them into easy buckets on the other end. Iowa State forced 27 TCU turnovers in the first meeting between the two schools. Those turnovers led to 36 points for the Cyclones and ultimately ended up being the reason they won the game. Tamin Lipsey was just recently named to the Defensive Player of the Year Watch List. He is averaging 3.1 steals per game and is the frontrunner for the Cyclone defense.

Slow down the Horned Frogs

Jamie Dixon’s team can score with any team in the country, especially if they get out in transition. Per KenPom, TCU is the best transition-scoring team in college basketball. With guys like Anderson, Nelson and Miller pushing the tempo after missed shots, the Horned Frogs can score in bunches. Iowa State needs to take care of the ball and get good looks on the offensive end to limit TCU’s transition opportunities.

Convert free-throw chances

Other than the game against Texas, the Cyclones haven’t been at their best from the free-throw line. In Big 12 play, Iowa State No. 12 in free throw shooting in the league at 68.7 percent as a team. The team has gotten to the line a lot more than in years past but just hasn’t been able to convert them at a high clip. The guy who has stepped up in late-game situations to make the big free throws is Buffalo transfer Curtis Jones. Jones is shooting 78.4 percent from the line and has made some huge free throws to ice games for Iowa State in conference play. The team will continue to lean on him in spots like this down the stretch.