Another game, another round of milestones after a signature triumph for the TCU men’s basketball program under first-year coach Jamie Dixon.
This time, the Horned Frogs knocked off Iowa State 84-77 at Schollmaier Arena to record their first victory over the Cyclones, a participant in the last five NCAA Tournaments, during TCU’s tenure as a Big 12 member.
The victory allowed TCU (14-3, 3-2 in Big 12) to raise its record above the .500 mark in conference play for the first time at any point during any of the school’s five seasons as a Big 12 member.
Led by double-double performances from forward Vladimir Brodziansky (25 points, 14 rebounds) and guard Kenrich Williams (13 points, 13 rebounds), TCU broke open a tight game with a 9-2 surge during a 2:02 stretch of the second half that gave the Frogs a 10-point lead to protect over the final 4:53.
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20 Years since TCU’s last victory over Iowa State before Saturday. That triumph came in a 1997 tournament in Puerto Rico.
Iowa State (11-5, 3-2) never closed within four points the rest of the way as TCU exceeded last season’s total for Big 12 victories (2) during its fifth league game under Dixon.
After TCU raised its combined mark to 11-66 in conference play since joining the league for the 2012-13 season, Dixon and his players began discussing topics rarely broached during recent seasons in Fort Worth: NCAA Tournament opportunities and a possible Top 25 ranking.
“I don’t look at the whole thing, but I know we’re good,” Dixon said after being quizzed about TCU’s merits as a possible Top 25 inclusion in next week’s polls. “As far as rankings and stuff, I don’t get too much into it. But that was a well-played game … between two high-level teams, two Top 25 [caliber] teams. In the second half, it seemed like we wanted it more.”
TCU went out and took it by shooting 56.9 percent from the field, the Frogs’ top performance against a Big 12 opponent and best since hitting a season-high 59.7 percent against Alabama State on Nov. 14. TCU also won the battle of the boards 36-27 and held Iowa State point guard Monte Morris, the Big 12’s preseason player of the year, to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
I know we’re good. As far as rankings and stuff, I don’t get too much into it. But that was a well-played game … between two high-level teams, two Top 25 [caliber] teams. In the second half, it seemed like we wanted it more.
TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon
Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long expressed frustration that TCU’s Brodzianksy and Williams combined for 27 rebounds, matching the Cyclones’ team total.
“That speaks for itself. That’s domination,” Mitrou-Long said. “They out-toughed us. They played with more of an edge. This is a really good TCU team.”
Against a team that was in the Top 25 earlier this season, the Frogs endured a back-and-forth first half that included 13 lead changes before taking the lead for good, 40-39, on Karviar Shepherd’s jumper with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
Guard Brandon Parrish, a senior from Arlington Seguin, came off the bench two minutes into the game and poured in 13 points over the next 18 minutes. He finished with 15 points.
Point guard Jaylen Fisher had career-high 11 assists to help TCU extend the lead to double digits twice in the second half. The final time came on a dunk by Desmond Bane (12 points, three rebounds) with 19 seconds remaining that gave the Frogs an 84-74 edge and touched off a raucous celebration among the announced crowd of 6,564 (capacity: 6,700).
“I think it’s pretty big for us,” said Brodzianksy, a member of last season’s team that finished 2-16 in Big 12 play. “Every win in the Big 12 is really important for us if we’re trying to make the tournament.”
Brodziansky credited the guards who fed him the ball coming off screens for his 11-for-14 shooting.
I’m still cool with being the underdog, but I’m proud of the team and the way we fought tonight. We’re going to need to pull out every win we can for us to get in the tournament.
TCU guard Kenrich Williams
“My teammates are finding me in great spots. I’ve just got to finish,” Brodziansky said. “We are doing a great job of team basketball, of sharing the ball.”
As a result, TCU followed Wednesday’s 64-61 victory at Texas, the team’s first in Austin in 30 years, with its first victory over Iowa State in 20 years.
“I feel like we’ve still got a ways to go. We’re above .500 now [in Big 12 play], but we’re still sort of the underdog,” Williams said of any Top 25 or NCAA Tournament thoughts. “I think that’ll change some. I’m still cool with being the underdog, but I’m proud of the team and the way we fought tonight. We’re going to need to pull out every win we can for us to get in the tournament.”
TCU 84, IOWA ST. 77
IOWA ST. (11-5): Bowie 3-5 2-2 8, Thomas 4-7 0-0 10, Morris 4-14 1-1 9, Burton 1-10 3-4 5, Mitrou-Long 7-12 2-2 19, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Weiler-Babb 5-7 0-0 10, Jackson 6-10 0-0 16. Totals 30-65 8-9 77.
TCU (14-3): Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Brodziansky 11-14 2-3 25, Fisher 4-7 0-1 9, K.Williams 6-9 0-1 13, Robinson 2-10 0-0 4, Shepherd 3-3 0-0 6, Bane 5-8 0-0 12, B.Parrish 6-12 0-0 15. Totals 37-65 2-5 84.
Halftime—TCU 44-41. 3-Point Goals—Iowa St. 9-22 (Jackson 4-5, Mitrou-Long 3-5, Thomas 2-5, Bowie 0-1, Weiler-Babb 0-1, Morris 0-2, Burton 0-3), TCU 8-24 (B.Parrish 3-8, Bane 2-3, Brodziansky 1-1, Fisher 1-3, K.Williams 1-3, Miller 0-1, Robinson 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Iowa St. 21 (Thomas, Burton 5), TCU 34 (Brodziansky 14). Assists—Iowa St. 16 (Morris 8), TCU 27 (Fisher 11). Total Fouls—Iowa St. 13, TCU 12. A—6,564 (7,201).