To earn another home game as an NIT participant, TCU (20-15) must prevail on the road in Sunday’s game at Iowa (19-14) in a second-round matchup. For the Horned Frogs, victories away from Fort Worth have been hard to come by during the Big 12 era but have become a more common commodity this season.
TCU is 6-9 when playing away from Schollmaier Arena, marking the Frogs’ most successful mark in five seasons as a Big 12 member, heading into Sunday’s contest in Iowa City, Iowa (4 p.m., ESPN2). Included is an 85-82 upset of top-ranked Kansas during the Big 12 tournament in a game played less than a one-hour drive from the KU campus in Lawrence, Kan.
That qualified as a neutral-site contest but the pro-Kansas crowd inside the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. was not neutral. The Horned Frogs, who posted a combined mark of 14-44 in games played outside of Fort Worth during their first four seasons as Big 12 members, drew confidence in themselves as road warriors during that contest.
They also gained swagger during victories on opponents’ home floors at UNLV (Nov. 25), Texas (Jan. 11) and Kansas State (Feb. 1). The triumph in Austin marked TCU’s first victory at Texas in 30 years. So the road trip to Iowa City does not seem as daunting to players, or first-year coach Jamie Dixon, as it might have earlier this season.
TCU posted a 3-12 record in road/neutral venues last season, preceded by marks of 5-9, 4-11 and 2-12 in such circumstances during its other seasons as a Big 12 member. In road/neutral matchups this season, TCU is 2-7 against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament but has a 4-2 mark against opponents that did not make it to March Madness.
“I think we’re better defensively and that’s a big thing,” coach Jamie Dixon said before Friday’s practice.
Guard Brandon Parrish cited something else.
“I think the high-intensity, high-energy style of basketball that we’ve played has benefitted us on the road a lot,” Parrish said, reflecting on TCU’s more up-tempo offensive approach under Dixon. “We’re bringing energy from ourselves as opposed to our crowd.”