No. 24 TCU looks to halt skid vs. Iowa State (Jan 17, 2018)
When No. 24 TCU and Iowa State square off Wednesday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, it will be a game between the bottom two teams in the current Big 12 Conference standings.
But don't let that fool you -- both of these squads have the ability to completely reverse the trend of the first five games of the league season and be on top by the end of the year.
The Horned Frogs (13-4, 1-4 in Big 12) have lost four of their past five games and three contests in a row. TCU's four defeats are by a combined 11 points; two of those came in overtime last week, and two of them came down to the final possession.
The Horned Frogs' most recent loss came Saturday when ninth-ranked Oklahoma beat then 16th-ranked TCU 102-97 in overtime.
"We have to learn how to finish these games, we're coming up short with all four of these losses being close games," said TCU forward Vlad Blodziansky, who had 21 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Sooners.
Sophomore guard Desmond Bane understands that the Horned Frogs must improve and said Monday that the team's confidence is intact despite the recent setbacks.
"Everybody knows how good we are, and how good we can be," Bane said. "It's just coming together, play together, play for each other and continue to play tough. We've just got to bring it every night, and be ready to finish games down the stretch."
The recent losses have TCU 15 spots lower on the AP ranking than when Big 12 play opened.
"We're the most disappointed ranked team probably in the country at this point," TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. "I don't know if you get any points for that, but that's where we are. There are 351 teams. A lot of them would like to be where we're at.
"Anybody can see it," Dixon added. "People lose, and in basketball, it's really how you respond to that loss. I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody. I think we're going to show it down the road here."
If it seems like TCU could use a home game against an unranked opponent, that's what they're getting Wednesday. But it would be foolish to take Iowa State lightly, even though the Cyclones have won just once in their four Big 12 games.
Iowa State heads to Cow Town on the heels of a 75-65 win over Baylor on Saturday that garnered the Cyclones their only conference win of the season.
"Monkey off your back? Yeah, just because you have to get your first win to get your second win," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said about the win over Baylor.
In its previous conference contests, Iowa State wasn't doing what Prohm drew up late in the game. That wasn't the case against Baylor.
"We made great steps in this game," Prohm said. "There was a different vibe everywhere in the arena today, a different passion and different emotion for whatever reason. But our guys stayed resilient. Make or miss, they executed what we were trying to do down the stretch."
Lindell Wigginton scored 30 points in the win over Baylor after pouring in 27 during a five-point loss at Kansas last Tuesday. He enters Wednesday's game at TCU with a non-freshman-like stat line that includes converting 18 of 37 field-goal attempts, including 9-for-18 from 3-point range, during his past two outings.
"I just felt good coming in," Wigginton said. "I played well at Kansas, but we didn't get the win, so I just felt good coming in after staying in the gym and getting my shots up, and my shot's been feeling good."
Wigginton is just the fourth Iowa State freshman to score 30 points; the Baylor game was his seventh scoring at least 20 points.
Iowa State leads the all-time series 11-6. TCU won last season's meeting in Fort Worth, 84-77 on Jan. 14, 2017. It was the Horned Frogs' first victory over Iowa State in 20 years.