Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger on the win over TCU
Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger talks about the Cyclones' win at TCU
FORT WORTH – It was a setup that screamed “lost deadline.”
No. 20 Iowa State played without its point guard, best player and most important player, Tamin Lipsey, against No. 22 TCU at Schollmaier Arena. It's a venue where the Horned Frogs were not only undefeated before Saturday's game, but had also defeated two top-10 teams the previous week.
The Cyclones would of course face off against each other, but ultimately circumstances would certainly prove too much to overcome.
Iowa State wasn't content to follow that script.
Powered by a tenacious defense that generated turnover after turnover, Iowa State defeated TCU 73-72 on Saturday afternoon.
“As your team moves forward, you know you're going to encounter adversity,” Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger said, “and we did the job we needed to do today to deal with that adversity.”
The Cyclones (14-4, 3-2 Big 12) pulled it off despite Lipsey sweating on the bench and dealing with a sprained shoulder. Much of the credit for the win goes to the major contribution of Keshon Gilbert, who took over almost all of Lipsey's point guard duties and delivered 20 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Curtis Jones, who started in place of Lipsey, added 17 points and four assists
It wasn't an afternoon without drama, however, as Iowa State let a second-half lead grow to as many as 19 points, only to slip to just four points in the game's final minute before the Cyclones were able to nail the door shut. A last-second 3-pointer from TCU brought the final lead to a single point.
Iowa State forced 27 turnovers, the most it has ever recorded in a Big 12 game. The Cyclones scored 36 points on these giveaways.
“I hate to say the word – but 27 turnovers make it tough,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “That was their way to beat us, and that’s what they did.”
Iowa State's Tamin Lipsey discusses injury and return
Iowa State guard Tamin Lipsey talks to The Register about his injury and a possible return
Tamin Lipsey's absence still looms
It was a move that happens again and again, in a game that was already all but decided. But when Lipsey extended his left arm to slow BYU's Richie Saunders on his way to the basket on Tuesday, the Cyclones star flinched and grabbed his left shoulder.
It also made Iowa State a game-changer, at least in the short term.
“That was something I felt at the Oklahoma home game last year,” Lipsey told The Register after Saturday’s game. “It’s something that happened last year so I was familiar with it.
“Just didn’t feel right.”
Lipsey leads Iowa State in scoring (14.5 points per game), rebounding (5.5 points per game), assists (5.6 points per game) and steals (3.4 points per game) and serves with his tireless style of play at the same time as the team's pacesetter.
“Tamin is a really big player,” Gilbert said. “He gets a lot of 50-50 balls, does a lot of little things. We committed to holding him for him and doing the things he does.”
His absence was made up for thanks to some great performances from Iowa State's other guards, particularly Gilbert and Jones.
Gilbert was 8 of 15 from the floor and played 37 minutes. Jones was 6 of 12 shots in 33 minutes. Both players recorded their season highs in minutes played.
“I approached it like any other day,” Jones said. “Of course you know you will play a bigger role in this game, but the coaches have given me confidence all week. My teammates gave me the confidence to be myself all week.”
The shoulder sprain is not expected to sideline Lipsey for an extended period of time. There is optimism that he could be back on the court in a crucial week for Iowa State that includes two home games against Kansas State and No. 4 Kansas.
“I hope to play on Wednesday,” Lipsey said. “That is the goal.”
Iowa State's ability to defend the home field will likely be a major factor in the Cyclones' ability to reach a third straight NCAA Tournament. Considering how impressive Hilton Coliseum has been in the past and how difficult it is to win on the road in the Big 12, piling up home wins is the surest way for Iowa State to solidify its tournament record.
“(Lipsey) really needed this opportunity to not be out there,” Otzelberger said. “We will continue to do what is in his best interest.
“It's everyday life, so I would say there's a chance (he'll play on Wednesday), but we have to make sure, first and foremost, that he gets his health, his safety and his well-being back to be healthy.
Curtis Jones talks Cyclone win at TCU
Iowa State guard Curtis Jones talks about Iowa State's win over TCU
Sales, sales and more sales
Iowa State ranked in the top 10 nationally in forcing turnovers during Otzelberger's first two seasons at Iowa State. This season, the Cyclones were once again among the best on Saturday.
However, they had done nothing like what they did against the Horned Frogs.
TCU shot nine times in the first five and a half minutes of the game, 18 times in the first half and 27 times in the game. That surpasses the 26 turnovers Iowa State forced against Colorado on March 3, 2004, making it the most turnovers the Cyclones have ever committed in a Big 12 game.
“It’s hard to understand,” Dixon said. “We just didn’t handle it well.”
Certainly TCU's ineptitude with the ball played a role, but Iowa State's ball pressure and team defense gave the Horned Frogs problems all day.
Jones had seven steals, which would have tied Iowa State's single-game record had Lipsey not recorded eight in a game earlier this season.
“I think the ball pressure got to them,” Jones said.
Iowa State's Keshon Gilbert talks about TCU win
Keshon Gilbert talks about Iowa State's win at TCU
After two road games, Iowa State now returns home to take on the entire state of Kansas.
The Cyclones face No. 1 Kansas State on Wednesday (8 p.m.; ESPN2) and No. 1 Kansas State on Saturday (12:30 p.m.; CBS) at Hilton Coliseum. 4 Kansas.
The Wildcats (13-4, 3-1) have won five of six games heading into their Saturday night matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma.
Iowa State ended a seven-game losing streak against the Jayhawks (15-2, 3-1) last season when the Cyclones beat them in Ames.
Travis Hines covers Iowa State University sports for the Des Moines Register and the Ames Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or (515) 284-8000. Follow him on X at @TravisHines21.