TCU-Iowa St. Preview

Playing at home has made all the difference for Iowa State, which survived another close call last time out.

TCU keeps having tight games not go its way.

The No. 15 Cyclones try to stay unbeaten in Ames as they go for a fifth consecutive victory over the Horned Frogs on Saturday.

Iowa State is 11-0 at home while averaging 84.0 points and allowing 67.5 per game, significantly better than its road marks of 77.5 and 74.8. The Cyclones (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) have won 18 straight at Hilton Coliseum dating to last season.

They suffered a surprising 78-73 defeat at last-place Texas Tech last Saturday before holding on for an 89-86 home win over No. 19 Texas on Monday. Georges Niang scored 19 points and Bryce Dejean-Jones added 18 for the Cyclones, who had to sweat it out after surrendering 23 points over the final 2:58. They led by 21 with under eight minutes to play.

"Seeing the ‘W’ on the board is something that helps put Texas Tech behind us," Niang said. "That being said, we have yet to put a 40-minute game together."

The Cyclones’ seven conference games have been decided by a combined 24 points, including narrow home wins over Oklahoma State, No. 9 Kansas and Kansas State. Their only other Big 12 loss came Jan. 14 by one point to Baylor, one of six ranked squads in the 10-team Big 12.

"I think the depth of our league is what makes the Big 12 the best conference," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Perfect example, we’ve beaten the best team in the league and we’ve lost to the team that has the worst record. So I think that tells you everything you need to know about the parody.

"If you don’t show up with your best game in this league, you’re going to get beat."

Before facing the first-place Jayhawks again Monday, Iowa State will try to get by ninth-place TCU (14-6, 1-6). The Cyclones are 4-0 in the series since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12, including two double-digits wins last season despite TCU top scorer Kyan Anderson averaging 22.5 points.

"They play really well. Kyan Anderson is a kid that’s as good as any guard in our league," Hoiberg said. "They’re a lot better than what their conference record indicates. … They’re a team that’s playing very good basketball right now."

The Horned Frogs went toe-to-toe with Kansas before falling 64-61 on Wednesday, missing a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired. They either led or trailed by single digits in the final five minutes in five of their six defeats, two of which have gone to overtime.

One reason for all those close losses is poor free-throw shooting. TCU went 15 of 29 at the foul line against the Jayhawks and is among the worst in the nation at 60.9 percent despite Anderson ranking second in the Big 12 at 87.8.

"If we can get our free throws corrected and continue to guard on the half and full court, maybe we’ll come in here one day and I won’t look this way because we had a close loss," coach Trent Johnson said. "We’re not into moral victories. So we need to get this thing changed and get it changed in a hurry."

Anderson finished with 17 points after scoring 22 four days earlier in an overtime loss at then-No. 18 West Virginia. With 13.9 points per game, Anderson is TCU’s only player averaging double figures.

While the Horned Frogs have dropped 18 straight against Top 25 opponents, the Cyclones have strung together 42 consecutive home wins over unranked foes.