TCU will try to continue to walk the tightrope when it takes on No. 15 Iowa State on Saturday in Ames, Iowa.
The Horned Frogs have seen their last three Big 12 conference games decided by a total of five points. They posted a 60-57 win over Kansas State on Jan. 12 and a 59-58 overtime victory versus Oklahoma three days later before dropping a 57-56 squeaker at Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Even though the latest contest did not go its way, TCU (12-3, 2-2 Big 12) has made a habit of winning close games this season. The Horned Frogs are 6-1 in games decided by single digits.
"We defended. We rebounded just enough. We forced the 20 turnovers, which we talked about doing," TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said after the win over Oklahoma. "We found a way. A lot of mistakes down the stretch, but a lot of good plays, too."
If TCU is going to pull out another close win, it will have to do it in one of the toughest home environments in college basketball. Iowa State is 11-1 at home this season, with its only home loss coming at the hands of then-No. Baylor on Jan. 1.
But away from Ames, the Cyclones have struggled to find that same level of consistency.
Iowa State (14-4, 2-4) has lost all three of its road conference games on the season. The Cyclones dropped a 72-60 decision at No. 18 Texas Tech on Tuesday in a game that they trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half.
"Now it's going to be going on the road in a tough atmosphere, environment," Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said about his team's road struggles before the trip to Texas Tech.
"Staying together, staying physical, being intentional -- those challenges are even greater on the road. We're fortunate when we're at Hilton (Coliseum), we've got the benefit of a great fan base and an unbelievable home court advantage."
The key for Iowa State getting back on track might be Izaiah Brockington.
Brockington leads the Cyclones in scoring (16.2 points per game) and rebounds (8.0) but was kept in check against Texas Tech with just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the floor. As a team Iowa State struggled heavily from 3-point range, shooting 5 of 26 (19.2 percent).
TCU also is coming off of a loss in which its best offensive performer struggled.
Leading scorer Mike Miles Jr. was well off the pace of his 16.3 points per game season average. He made just 2 of 15 shots from the floor and scored eight points in 33 minutes.
Saturday will be the first of two meetings between the teams, with the rematch coming in Fort Worth on Feb. 15.
TCU won both games last season, although both were narrow decisions. The Horned Frogs won 79-76 at home on Feb. 9 and 76-72 on the road Feb. 27 for the season sweep.
Iowa State's last victory over TCU was a 65-59 home win during the 2019-20 season.
--Field Level Media