Nothing has come easy for TCU over the past three games, although the Horned Frogs appear to be back on the right track after a thrilling, last-second victory, with one of their top players finally out of a shooting slump.
Now it's up to TCU to keep things going as the Horned Frogs travel to Ames, Iowa for a crucial Big 12 Conference showdown against a surging 17th-ranked Iowa State team Saturday afternoon. TCU might be 4-0 at home in conference play, but they are 0-5 on the road.
JD Miller hit a game-winning off-balance jumper with less than a second to play to lift TCU to a wild 70-68 home victory over visiting Oklahoma State on Wednesday. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for TCU (16-6, 4-5 Big 12 Conference), who had dropped two straight games by an average of 22.5 points.
Desmond Bane, who had just five points in a 24-point loss at Baylor on Feb. 2, led all scorers Wednesday with 26 points, while Kouat Noi added 12. Miller finished with 11, while Alex Robinson had 10 points and 11 assists for the Horned Frogs.
Miller's big bucket came when he dribbled nearly the length of the floor and crossed through the paint before rising up and hitting an off-balance jumper while being contested by Yor Anei. Miller's play was not the first option for the Horned Frogs in the end-of-game situation, but it worked out.
"It's probably our last option, but it is an option," TCU coach Jamie Dixon said after the victory, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's something that we've practiced over and over, but I don't know that we've had it finish like that before. JD was in the spot he was supposed to be."
Miller's game-winner served as biggest storyline on a night when Robinson set the school's record for career assists and Bane joined the 1,000-point club.
The Horned Frogs remained unbeaten at home in conference play with five of their remaining nine games at Schollmaier Arena.
"Our league is ups and downs," Dixon said. "It's who is healthy, who is playing well, who is playing on the road and who is at home. Everybody goes through a run, everybody goes through a slide."
Iowa State (18-5, 7-3) has won four games in a row and six of its past seven contests. The Cyclones' latest victory was a 75-74 duel at Oklahoma on Monday in which Iowa State trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half but jumped back into the lead soon after halftime.
The game was tied at 69-69 with 1:44 remaining before Marial Shayok hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 1:16 to go, and the shot clock winding down, to give Iowa State the lead for good. The Cyclones made three of their four free-throw attempts in the final minute to finish off the victory.
"We didn't have our best (first) half, but we stuck together," Shayok told the Des Moines Register after the win. "We learned from our past mistakes and our past losses from early in the season. we have a lot more growing to do. It's February. It's going to be a good month, hopefully."
Iowa State had five players in double figures in the victory, led by 17 off the bench from Lindell Wigginton. Shayok added 16, Tyrese Haliburton and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 11 each, and Michael Jacobson tallied 10 points for the Cyclones.
The Cyclones' three conference losses al were close. They fell by three points at Baylor, four points on the road to No. 13 Kansas and by a point at home to Kansas State.
"We have good players, we have some experience, and we have youthful guys that don't know any better.," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said after the win. "We have a good team - that's the biggest thing. Our team, and their togetherness ... winning helps that. The close games we've won down the stretch, our seniors made plays. Even if I (mess) things up, they overcome it."
--Field Level Media