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AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team has grown accustomed to winning with offense.
As long as anybody on the roster has been around, free flowing, outside-shooting offense has been the cornerstone.
That hasn’t changed, but in shaping their identity, the Cyclones have found they’re more than just a collection of guys who can light up a scoreboard. Toughness is a new wrinkle to this group’s makeup.
After suffering its biggest home loss in four years, Iowa State has won four of its last five games, most recently beating TCU, 84-71 in Hilton Coliseum. With the win, the Cyclones (17-9, 9-5) moved into a tie with Baylor and West Virginia for second in the Big 12 standings and have their first three-game winning streak in conference play.
“I think we were too wild earlier in the year probably,” said coach Steve Prohm. “We gave up too much rope. And then you’ve also got to kind of figure out your identity. When you lose a guy like Georges (Niang) and some really good pieces, you’re trying to figure out the best way for this team to play. We’re figuring that out.”
Iowa State shot better than 50 percent from the field and canned 12-of-25 3-pointers, but the win against TCU (17-9, 6-8) was more about how the Horned Frogs were affected offensively. Senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long led the way with 25 points and seven rebounds, going 7-for-12 from beyond the arc.
“You want to play your best basketball late in the season,” Mitrou-Long said. “It definitely feels awesome. It was a collective group effort.”
After giving up 54 points in the paint and allowing forward Vlad Brodziansky to put up 24 points and 14 rebounds in Fort Worth, the Cyclones got to work on the block. TCU had 36 points in the paint and Brodziansky had 11 points and seven boards with most of his production coming slightly removed from the basket.
“Any guy at this level, if you play basketball, no matter where you play if you get the chance to play somebody twice you’re going to try to play better than you did the first time,” said point guard Monte Morris, who had 18 points and 11 assists with one turnover. “Everybody’s competitive on our roster and our bigs worked hard this week.”
Freshman forward Solomon Young got his third-straight start, tallying four points and four rebounds. Early foul trouble gave way to senior Darrell Bowie, who had six points and four rebounds in 16 minutes — he didn’t play Wednesday at Kansas State on a coach’s decision.
Senior forward Deonte Burton had 18 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes while guard Donovan Jackson chipped in 11 points while going 3-for-3 from the field.
TCU shot 52.7 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3, but 19 turnovers — five on the first five possessions — gave way to 17 ISU points. The Horned Frogs cut it to 53-50 midway through the second half, but the Cyclones used a 15-3 run over the next five minutes to cushion the lead above double digits for the rest of the night.
“That’s a good team,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon. “They’re senior dominated. I think the other thing I’ve said about this league, I thought we were old in the Big East and I thought we were old in the ACC. This is an old, old league and this team epitomizes that.”
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