Three Big Takeaways: Kunc back to peak form in win over No. 22 TCU


Tyler Coe

Aljaz Kunc celebrates a 3 in front of the Cyclone bench against TCU on Feb. 15, 2023.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

Sputtering through the previous handful of games, the Cyclones roared back to take a 70-59 win over No. 22 TCU Wednesday.

The win put the Cyclones back within a game of the top spot in the Big 12 with five games remaining. 

Kunc back in form

Aljaž Kunc had his best game since his return from injury back on Saturday, leading the Cyclones with 13 points against Oklahoma State.

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said Kunc was one of the lone bright spots in the game but mentioned Kunc still is looking to get back into peak form.

Kunc looked to be back in peak form Wednesday, posting 22 points on 7-10 shooting in addition to 5-8 shooting from distance.

In what Otzelberger said was Kunc’s best game as a Cyclone, the offensive pressure was lifted off the rest of the players.

“It’s great to see him back playing the way we

Tamin Lipsey and TCU’s Eddie Lampkin shake hands after the Cyclones beat the Horned Frogs 70-59 on Feb. 15, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

know he can play, and it gives us another weapon offensively to take some, maybe, pressure or responsibility from other guys,” Otzelberger said.

TCU plagued with injuries

Playing without an 18.1 point-per-game scorer and a key playmaker in Mike Miles Jr., the Horned Frogs were already at a disadvantage. 

In addition to Miles, Eddie Lampkin Jr. played but was not at 100%. Lampkin limped around the court for much of the game, likely remaining in the game to force the Cyclones to respect the inside scoring presence.

Otzelberger said prior to the game, the Cyclones will prepare as if both players are going to be at full strength, adjusting from there based on availability.

TCU fell behind 15-2 in the first half with Lampkin on the bench. By the time Lampkin checked in for the first time, the Cyclones had built a big enough lead to hold onto for the remainder of the game.

Nothing is free

Allowing the opponent to get to the free throw line can be a killer for the defensive momentum team’s build up; however, this was not the case on Wednesday, as TCU could not cash in on the trips.

TCU made just a pair of its first 12 attempts at the line, costing the team any chance it had at momentum.

The Horned Frogs slightly improved at the line late in the game, but it was too late, going just 6-18 overall.

On the flip side, Iowa State had a strong performance from the free throw line after going just 9-19 against Oklahoma State. The Cyclones made it rain on Wednesday night, shooting 15-17 at the line.

“They made theirs; we didn’t make ours,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “So simply put, there’s the difference.”

Up next the Cyclones will hit the road, taking on Kansas State at 1 p.m. Saturday with just five regular-season games remaining.