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Staff Picks: Texas, TCU

Jacob Rice
Head Coach speaks with Robert Jones and a referee during a media timeout at the Iowa State vs. Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 21, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor
Texas 78, No. 14 Iowa State 72

Given Iowa State’s history against Texas on the road and the recent road struggles in conference play, I am hesitant to give the Cyclones the nod in this matchup. Texas has historically given the Cyclones problems in Austin, Texas, and I see this matchup going the same as usual.

The Cyclones have not proven that they can play consistently well on the road, as they only have one win in conference play over a TCU team that has cooled down since its hot start. Not only that, the Cyclones nearly lost that game after the Horned Frogs stormed back.

In Iowa State’s last matchup, Baylor came out on top after a night of struggles from the free throw line and cold shooting. The Cyclones nearly pulled off a miracle comeback thanks to some timely help from the officials, with Baylor head coach Scott Drew getting ejected, and a near last-second dagger from Milan Momcilovic.

The real issue I have with Iowa State on the road is its ability to protect the 3-point line and cash in opportunities from the charity stripe. Texas is deadly from deep this season, which could cause déjà vu to the BYU and Baylor games. Not only that, being unable to make the most of what could be a physical and aggressive game could hurt the Cyclones in their efforts against Texas.

Overall, I see this being a chippy and gritty game that will end up favoring the home crowd. If it were in Hilton, I could see the Cyclones blowing out Texas, but the Austin atmosphere will be too much for Iowa State to handle.

No. 14 Iowa State 78, TCU 64

I’m not going to overthink this game at all. Iowa State is going to win.

Iowa State got the better of TCU in dominant fashion for most of the game and only let up a near comeback due to the Horned Frogs’ atmosphere. Now that it is at Hilton, Iowa State should have no issues taking care of business.

TCU has taken a slight step back from its week of upsets that pushed it into the top-25 rankings. Since then, TCU only has one quality road win, beating Baylor in triple overtime. On the other hand, Iowa State has further proven how impossible it is to win at Hilton.

With the Cyclones taking down the likes of Houston, Kansas State and Kansas at home, I see TCU being no problem. Although I think TCU will try to keep it close, I think Hilton Magic will cut off a Horned Frog comeback before it gets too out of hand.

Logan Shanks, Assistant Sports Editor
No. 14 Iowa State 75, Texas 69

Although each team enters this matchup in different situations, the Cyclones coming off a ranked loss on the road and Texas coming off a ranked road win, I still think Iowa State has what it takes to bounce back.

Some key factors to think about: Iowa State has not dropped back-to-back losses, let alone on the road, since the ESPN Events Invitational in late November. Iowa State also finds themselves in a comparable situation to when they lost to BYU on the road and followed it up with a road win at TCU.

Also, if history repeats itself, it will be on the side of the Cyclones. Twice this season Texas has won a conference game on the road, and then proceeded to lose its next game at home. The Longhorns also have a 1-3 record at home in conference play, and have allowed over 70 points in each of those games.

If Texas continues its defensive struggles at home, that would favor the Cyclones as they are 14-1 when they reach the 70-point mark.

With that being said, Iowa State will also need to make some defensive adjustments, as it has been letting up wide open threes and Texas is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the Big 12.

I’m also going against history on this one, as Iowa State has not beaten Texas in Austin since 2015. Situationally, it was a very similar matchup back in 2015, as the Cyclones were also ranked at 14 and the Longhorns were unranked.

No. 14 Iowa State 74, TCU 63

Sticking with my historical point of view for this week’s staff picks, I think this should be an easy win for the Cyclones in their return to Hilton.

In their first meeting with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas, the Cyclones forced 27 turnovers and took a double-digit lead in the second half. While Iowa State had a bit of a collapse that gave TCU some hope, its earlier efforts were enough to walk out with a win.

While TCU has picked up some solid wins since losing to Iowa State, I still think it is outmatched defensively. The Horned Frogs have allowed the most points per game in Big 12 play (77.9) and have allowed the third-highest field goal percentage by their opponents (48), all good signs for the Cyclones.

I think that no matter if Iowa State is coming into this game on a loss or a win against Texas, the Cyclones will come out with a win against the Horned Frogs and remain undefeated at home. As much as I have criticized the Cyclones for not translating their success at home in their road games, I can’t deny that when they are at home they are one of the best teams in college basketball.

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