Going from chicken to beef in the pregame meal, or vice versa, probably isn’t the answer. Nor are any potential travel issues that may arise such as when they had to bus to Lubbock earlier this month when their plane had problems departing on time.
“I don’t know if we’re changing our pregame meal, but we’ll look into that,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said, laughing.
“Usually you don’t really have a routine because sometimes you play day games. You play night games. You’re always adjusting. … But our goal is to be on time on our flight this time for the first time.”
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On the court for TCU, it’s about finding the right adjustments to snap an 0-5 start to conference play on the road. TCU (16-6, 4-5 Big 12) takes on No. 17 Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames with tip off set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
Not only does TCU have a chance for its first conference road win, it’s another opportunity to snap a dubious drought that dates back to last century. The Frogs haven’t beaten a ranked team in a true road game since January 1998 against No. 24 Hawaii, a stretch of 49 games.
TCU would prefer that mark doesn’t reach 50. The Frogs at least return to the site of their last Big 12 road win, as they knocked off the Cyclones, 89-83, on Feb. 21, 2018 in Ames last season.
But last year’s Iowa State team ranked as the worst in the Big 12. That’s not the case this season.
The Cyclones (18-5, 7-3 Big 12) are one of the favorites to win the league and have the Big 12’s longest current winning streak at four games. Iowa State boasts the Big 12’s best offense, averaging 78.8 points a game, as well as the best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5).
The Cyclones are led by the Big 12’s second leading scorer, Virginia transfer Marial Shayok, and have a veteran point guard in senior Nick Weiler-Babb, an Arlington Martin product.
But Iowa State also has freshmen standouts playing well in guard Tyrese Haliburton, who ranks second in the league with 4.1 assists a game, and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, who is the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.4 points.
“They’re a little similar to us in how they play as far as spacing the floor, shooter at every spot,” Dixon said. “They can really shoot it at four different spots. It’s a team that’s got veteran leadership in Shayok and fifth-year guys [like Weiler-Babb]. But then they’ve got two freshmen playing very well, so an interesting team.”
TCU feels good about itself going into it, though, after its buzzer-beater victory over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. The Frogs went into that game after a pair of blowout losses on the road at Texas Tech and at Baylor.
But they persevered and managed to get a ‘W.’ Now it’s about finding that success on the road.
“We’re going to keep the same approach, prepare like we prepare for every game,” TCU junior guard Desmond Bane said. “Hopefully we can get it done on the road this weekend.”
That will go a long ways in TCU’s desire to stay in the mix for a Big 12 title. Senior point guard Alex Robinson, despite the team’s road woes, is not ready to count the Frogs out of the mix at the midway point of league play.
TCU is only three games back of leader Kansas State, and knocking off a team such as Iowa State will put it in the conversation. At the very least, the Frogs have to win a couple road games to even have a chance.
“I still feel like we’re in the run to compete for the Big 12 championship,” Robinson said. “If we go on a run, we’re still in it.”
Everyone in the locker room feels the same way.
Dixon recalled last year’s regular-season finale where, depending on win or loss, TCU could’ve finished as high as second or as low as fifth in the Big 12.
“Just assume every game is going to be that important,” Dixon said.