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“The health of TCU’s Kouat Noi is essential for a late season run toward a tournament berth. Courtesy TCU.

Men’s basketballers bested Iowa State this past Saturday after having endured three losses in seven days. TCU’s lackluster offensive outputs against the Oklahoma schools earlier in the week didn’t inspire confidence that the Frogs could overcome their difficult remaining opponents and secure a tournament spot. However, coach Jamie Dixon’s team proved on Saturday they might be most dangerous when the chips are down and they need a win. 

Storm Chasers

Iowa State arrived at Schollmaier Arena ranked 19th in the land and occupying the fourth spot in the Big 12 conference battle. ISU is the only conference team TCU has bested on the road this season. The confident Funkytown Ballers scored quickly against the Cyclones and grabbed the lead before slipping to a four-point deficit. Seniors JD Miller and Alex Robinson led the charge by crashing the lane and punishing Iowa State’s man defense. Neither team impressed from long range in the first half. The Froggies didn’t hit their first from downtown until 12 minutes had elapsed. The Cyclones must have YouTubed what a three-pointer was during halftime. They couldn’t land their first triple until after their locker room hiatus. Dixon’s energetic defense robbed the ball and racked up steals, as the cardinal and gold debuted for the Cheez-It Bowl 2.0 with their slippery fingers and questionable passes. Halftime hope permeated Schollmaier as the good guys led 36-28.

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Great teams make adjustments, and Iowa State is at least very good. The Frogs’ lead was blown away in a stiff cardinal gust after the teams returned to the hardwood. The Cyclones pounded the paint to storm within a possession of our Horned Heroes before the home team regrouped to re-pad their slight advantage. A maximum of two possessions is all that separated the teams for most of the second half. The final 10 minutes included four lead changes, and Frog guard Desmond Bane and his friendly forwards Miller and Kouat Noi swished difference-making threes in the final minutes. Red and purple were dead even with two minutes left before Bane buried a three from so far behind the arc the creators of Dude Perfect should feel inadequate. The Aimes Alley-Oopers stayed within striking distance but couldn’t retake the lead. TCU escaped with a much-needed victory: 75-72.

Making Noi-se

It’s confusing that Dixon’s disciples swept the superior Cyclones this season but fell to lesser OU and Oklahoma State last week, except it isn’t. Without Noi on the floor, the Frog Fraternity struggles offensively. The junior forward didn’t seem to be flying around against ISU, but his presence on the court proved incredibly valuable to his teammates, who enjoyed one-on-one matchups to the basket as the defense adjusted to No. 12 threatening from the wing. Noi made amends for having to sit out the last two games with an injured ankle by ringing up his second career double-double, scoring 20 points and tallying 13 rebounds to lead all Frogs in both categories. Robinson claimed another school record with the most assists in a season on his way to a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.

Final Four

Four tips remain for Dixon’s dribblers, who remain optimistic about their chances to dance in March, as they should be. ESPN basketball analyst Joe Lunardi projects TCU as a 10th seed in tournament selection. The Weekly will go to press before the Froggers play at West Virginia, but the Mountaineers are last in the conference and beatable if our boys stay healthy. Texas Tech will attempt to raid the Fort on Saturday and are currently one game behind the Kansas State Wildcats, who lead the conference right now.

Seasons Greetings

Two of TCU’s most successful programs are busy achieving in their respective seasons: baseball and men’s tennis. Coach Jim Schlossnagle’s diamond Frogs are ranked 18th in the country and possess a 5-2 record, including an impressive 10-2 win over top-ranked Vanderbilt during the MLB4 tournament in their third game of the season. Expectations are high, as always, for another trip to the College World Series in Omaha this summer. Men’s tennis coach David Roditi is also enjoying his team’s consistent success, currently ranked seventh in the land. The Tennis Toads are backhanding their competitors with a 7-3 record, including wins over Mississippi State and UCLA, who are ranked ninth and second in the country respectively. The racquet Frogs are striving for their fourth consecutive regular-season conference championship, and only the Longhorns seem to the have the skills to challenge them.

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