Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum isn’t the friendliest place for a visiting team such as TCU still searching for its first Big 12 win.
Even when the Cyclones aren’t one of the best teams in the country, it’s tough to win in Ames, Iowa.
No. 16 Iowa State (17-4, 5-4 Big 12) has been on a bit of a roll with consecutive wins against Oklahoma and Monday at Oklahoma State, against which the Cyclones survived in triple overtime. It was ISU’s first win in Stillwater, Okla., since 1988. The Cyclones have won three of their past four since losing three straight in mid-January.
“It’s certainly one of the best road wins that we’ve had here in my four years, to go in there, a very hostile environment,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said on The Jim Rome Show this week. “To find a way to gut that one out ... shows, I think, the character and toughness of this team. So we found a way and that’s what great teams do.”
The Horned Frogs (9-12, 0-9), meanwhile, are hoping to forget consecutive losses to Texas Tech and Tech in which their first league win was there for the taking in the final minutes.
TCU (9-12, 0-9) has a difficult task Saturday. ISU is 10-1 at home this season. The lone loss was against eighth-ranked Kansas on Jan. 13. If that’s not enough to make the Frogs feel feeble, consider that the Cyclones are 42-3 at home the past three seasons. A year ago, TCU lost 87-53 at ISU in a swarm of Cyclone 3-pointers (14 of 29).
Not much has changed in 2014 for ISU. The Cyclones lead the Big 12 (and are sixth nationally) with 85.1 points a game. TCU is last in the league, averaging 65 points a game. ISU leads the league with 187 3-pointers, although it’s only sixth in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at 35 percent.
It’s not just Naz Long, Matt Thomas and Georges Niang, the Cyclones’ leaders in made 3-pointers, defenses have to think about. ISU has seven players with at least 15 made 3-pointers. In contrast, TCU has two players with more than 14 3-pointers.
TCU is coming off a narrow loss to Texas in which the Frogs were outrebounded 56-25. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in rebounding. ISU is second with 39.1 rebounds a game. It has been an issue for the Frogs, who are playing without three injured players who would have helped on the backboards.
“If we show up ready to play I think we can play with anybody,” TCU’s Amric Fields, who equates rebounding with toughness. “Toughness is heart. Rebounds are hard. They’re not easy. It takes a lot of pride and guts to go in there to snag a ball. Once we get everybody doing it, and everybody doing it consistently, I think we’ll start winning some games.”