January 30, 2015

Iowa State has essentially seen its way out of the Big 12 regular-season race, and the Top 25 figures be a thing of the past as well with another loss.

That seems unlikely with TCU visiting Saturday night as the 13th-ranked Cyclones try for an eighth straight win over the scoring-inept Horned Frogs.

After Tuesday's 100-91 overtime loss at No. 25 Baylor, losses are mounting for Iowa State (18-8, 7-6), though they're coming often with perfectly adequate shooting efforts. Over a 2-4 span, the Cyclones have shot 50.1 percent and 41.0 from 3-point range.

"Everybody talks offense, offense, offense," coach Steve Prohm said. "Check our efficiency in that game. It's off the charts. ... We got to get big stops. We got to make free throws. That's been our Achilles heel. You look at all of our losses, look at our free-throw percentage. That's been huge. We started overtime 1 for 4."

Iowa State has shot 63.6 percent in its defeats with an average of 5.4 misses per game. Its eight losses have come by an average of 5.2 points and three have gone to overtime.

"You look at our losses, I think I saw six (conference) losses (by a total of) 29 points," Prohm said. "That's the frustrating part because you know you're right there from being 21-5 and maybe first place, second place."

Part of it also falls on rebounding. The Cyclones haven't had an advantage on the glass since a win over then-No. 1 Oklahoma on Jan. 18. And over the 2-4 span, they've posted a minus-4.7 differential with almost all of that coming on the offensive glass - 13.3-9.3 in favor of their opponents.

As for the good, Abdel Nader matched a career high with 26 points against Baylor, but he's been unable to string together strong offensive performances. Georges Niang, meanwhile, has scored 24 in consecutive games while shooting 59.4 percent.

Monte Morris had 20 points and 11 assists and is averaging 22.0 points on 63.0 percent and 5 of 10 from 3-point range over the last two games. He's also been key against TCU (11-15, 2-11).

Iowa State has won all seven meetings since TCU joined the Big 12 prior to the 2012-13 season by an average of 16.6 points. The Cyclones have shot 52.8 percent and 41.2 from 3-point range in those games, while the Horned Frogs have been at 38.7 and 30.5.

The Cyclones won 73-60 at TCU on Jan. 23 with Morris scoring 18 points and Matt Thomas adding 15. The guards were a combined 12 of 19 from the field, as well as 5 of 6 from long range. Morris, a career 49.2 percent shooter, has averaged 17.7 points on 69.0 percent, 5 of 5 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the foul line with 6.0 assists in his last three against the Horned Frogs.

TCU's numbers in the series are about in line with its offensive efforts in the conference this season, though those numbers have even dipped in consecutive losses while averaging 45.5 points on 33.0 percent, 25.0 from beyond the arc and 48.9 from the foul line.

The Horned Frogs are coming off Tuesday's 63-49 home loss to Kansas State and now face a 13-game road losing steak in the conference and a 35-game road skid against the Top 25 that dates back to 1997-98.

"It's contagious and it's tough when things aren't going well, but there's no secret to it," coach Trent Johnson said. "The responsibility's on me to get this thing to where they're playing right."

He might consider going more to top scorer Malique Trent, who's shot 50.0 percent in the last three games but averaged only 8.0 attempts.

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