For a team shooting a Big 12-worst 60% from the free throw line this season, it took TCU basketball each one of their attempts from the charity stripe on Saturday afternoon to beat Iowa State in Ames on Saturday.
In an area where they characteristically struggle, the Horned Frogs finished with an outstanding 18-for-18 from the free throw line, surpassing the Cyclones in a game that came down to the wire.
“I’ve got one thing to say: 18-of-18 from the free throw line,” head coach Jamie Dixon said. “There’s some things we can work on, but we hit 18 from the free throw line. We hit them down the stretch -clutch-free throws.”
TCU was led by guard R.J. Nembhard, who hit all eight of his free throw attempts, including four in the final 11 seconds to finalize the 76-72 win for the Frogs.
Right behind Nembhard was guard Mike Miles, who made five free throws. The true freshman tied his older teammate with a team-high 19 points and also racked up six rebounds, five assists and a steal.
On the other side, guard Jalen Coleman-Lands was virtually unstoppable for Iowa State. The senior excelled offensively, finishing 8-for-11 (including 4-for-6 from downtown) with a game-high 21 points.
Midway through the second half, after the Frogs had led by as much as 14 in the first half, the Cyclones took their first lead of the game on a three by guard Tre Jackson.
TCU struck back quickly and reclaimed the lead three minutes later, never looking back. Nine of the Frogs’ last 11 points came from the free throw line.
“Our mentality was just stay focused, stay calm,” Miles said. “We got to the free throw line. We were 100% from the free throw line so that helped.”
Most of the Frogs’ work in the game came in the front end, as they looked eager to end their three-game losing streak in the first half.
The two teams kept it close through the majority of the first half, until TCU’s Chuck O’Bannon and Taryn Todd decided to take over.
The duo combined for a personal 8-0 run, giving the Frogs their 14-point lead with just four minutes remaining in the first half.
Though Iowa State finished the half with a 9-2 run to cut TCU’s lead to seven, O’Bannon and Todd’s combined 5-for-6 from deep gained the team 17 points and gave the Frogs enough cushion at the break to win the game.
Center Kevin Samuel finished the game with 10 points, joining Nembhard, Miles and O’Bannon (11) as TCU’s four players in double figures.
As a team, TCU defeated Iowa State in the rebound (33-28) and turnover (12-13) battles, two things Dixon emphasized as key for the Frogs throughout the season.
“We did out-rebound them, but I thought we’d have to out-rebound by 10 to win,” Dixon said. “The 18-for-18 certainly made up for it.”
With the win, TCU advances 5-8 in conference play, completing the season sweep of Iowa State.
Up next, the Frogs stay on the road, heading to Lubbock for a matchup with No. 18 Texas Tech. Tip-off against the Red Raiders is set for Tuesday, March 2, at 6 p.m.