Iowa State heads to Fort Worth searching for its first conference win

Tre Jackson disagrees with a foul call against then-No. 17 West Virginia on Feb. 2, 2021

Zane Douglas

Following the trend of the last two games, it seems Iowa State men’s basketball is set to play a close game with all of its players back to 100 percent Tuesday against TCU.

Aside from Xavier Foster and Blake Hinson, who had season-ending injuries, Iowa State will have a full roster once again against the Horned Frogs with Javan Johnson’s second game back marking what could be a return to the starting lineup.

The end of the game against Oklahoma on Feb. 6 marked the start of a stretch where Iowa State won’t see many off days. The Cyclones won’t get to have four days in-between games until the break between the Feb. 23 game against No. 2 Baylor and the Feb. 27 game against TCU.

“AAU was like that,” sophomore guard Tre Jackson said. “Games back to back to back and so it was really just like playing pickup basketball too, we play back-to-back games so, it’s not the same as in score and time and all that, but it’s the same in just playing back-to-back games and being ready at all times.”

This game will come against TCU, who is one of three teams (Iowa State 0-8, Kansas State 1-10 and TCU 3-5) that is below a .500 winning percentage in the conference.

While it’s against one of the worst teams in the Big 12, the Cyclones will want to bring the same energy it had in two close losses to No. 14 West Virginia and No. 12 Oklahoma to Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday.

The Horned Frogs are led by junior guard RJ Nembhard, TCU’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game and has started all 15 games he’s played for TCU.

Iowa State will continue to be led by junior guard Rasir Bolton and redshirt senior forward Solomon Young, who have been the team’s most consistent players scoring 15.8 and 12.3 points per game respectively to lead the team.

Bolton had an especially odd game against Oklahoma, going 5-8 on 3-pointers after hitting just nine threes during the rest of the season while also shooting poorly from inside the arc, hitting on just three of 12 2-point attempts.

Bolton improved his 3-point percentage to 28.9 percent while his 2-point percentage fell to 53.0 percent.

Bolton dropped more than 20 points for just the second time all season and his contributions helped keep Iowa State in a game on the road against the No. 9 team in the country.

Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm knows the Cyclones are still on a losing streak, however, he said his team has to focus on the positives and moving forward against TCU and beyond.

“We gave our team two goals,” Prohm said. “Number one, are we playing with great pace, are we getting better ball movement, are we executing. We had 18 assists against West Virginia, we had 14 assists against Oklahoma and we missed 45 shots — you maybe have a 20-assist game if you make a couple more shots.”

His other goal was to give effort, energy and toughness on defense. Iowa State showed that energy, almost upsetting two ranked teams in a row, but Prohm said he wants that to continue down the stretch.

In TCU’s last three games, the Horned Frogs are 1-2, but one of those games was an overtime loss to No. 10 Missouri and the other loss was to a recently unranked Kansas team.

It’s a similar stretch to Iowa State, but the two teams will have to prove they can hang with each other and not just the top of the conference Tuesday.