Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State responds in road win over TCU

Tyrese Hunter initiates offense for the Cyclones in their win over Missouri on Jan. 29.

Matt Belinson

With their backs against the wall as the last-place team in the Big 12, the Iowa State Cyclones went on the road to TCU Tuesday night in need of a win.

The Cyclones entered the night 2–5 on the road and hadn’t beat the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth since Jan. 23, 2016.

Recent history didn’t matter, however, as Iowa State defeated TCU 54-51 to improve to 4–9 in the Big 12.

Horned Frogs win the battle, not the war

The game-plan for TCU was clear on paper in Tuesday’s matchup with Iowa State: win the battle in the paint.

And it’s one the Cyclones have lost more often than not — and losing to TCU in the paint wouldn’t have fallen under the shock category either.

Iowa State walked into Fort Worth, having been out-scored in the paint in five of its last seven conference games, including 32–22 by the Horned Frogs on Jan. 22.

The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in overall rebounding (40.5 per game) and rank as the third-best offensive rebounding team in the nation (13.7 a game before Tuesday night).

In its loss to TCU on Jan. 22, Iowa State was out-rebounded by 11.

But it was Iowa State who opened the night with a presence in the post.

As the shots weren’t falling from deep, the Cyclones drove downhill and let Tyrese Hunter and Izaiah Brockington draw fouls and finish near the rim with force. 

The Cyclones walked into halftime with a 14–2 advantage in the paint and stuck with it as the second half began.

However, TCU slowly found its way back to being the aggressor down low midway through the second half. And it almost propelled the Horned Frogs past the Cyclones.

Eddie Lampkin put on his hard hat and went to work.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore drove past George Conditt on multiple possessions and pulled down two crucial offensive rebounds in TCU’s second-half rally. Lampkin went a perfect 6-6 from the field for 12 points in the second half.

His efforts allowed the Horned Frogs to find easy baskets near the rim on cuts and pesky drives to out-score the Cyclones 20-10 in the paint in the second half.

TCU won the rebounding margin 38–30, offensive rebounds 13–8 and had six blocks to Iowa State’s two.

But Iowa State managed to get the victory.

Offensive lows get lower

In a season defined by poor offense and numbing offensive possessions, the Cyclones pulled out a new low for their season on Tuesday.

The Cyclones trailed 24–22 at halftime, with their 22 points good for the lowest they’ve scored in a first half all season.

Iowa State shot 9-29 (31 percent) from the field and 0–5 from three. But TCU didn’t take advantage and met the Cyclones in their offensive rut at 31 percent shooting as well.

Brockington had 11 points on 4–8 shooting — giving him nine-straight in double figures. But Gabe Kalscheur picked up three fouls, and Hunter had six points on 3–11 shooting.

Eventually, the young freshman would find his way.

For Hunter, there’s no like place like road

Iowa State handed the offensive keys to its 18-year-old point guard from the very beginning and accepted the bumps and bruises that would come with it.

And yet, Tuesday night was another solid performance from Tyrese Hunter, with his 15 points on 7–16 shooting, to go with five rebounds and three assists. It was a bounce-back after he matched a season-high with six turnovers Jan. 22 to TCU.

But if you look into Hunter’s Big 12 home/road splits for the season, stark differences emerge in his performances in and out of Hilton.

On the road — including Tuesday night — Hunter is shooting 47 percent from the field compared to 40 percent at home in league play. He’s shooting 35 percent from three as opposed to his nine percent clip at Hilton.

Hunter averages more steals (2 compared to 1.6) and averages 14.3 points per game on the road to 9.3 ppg at home in the Big 12.

Three of Iowa State’s next five games are at home.

Iowa State returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum against Oklahoma.