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January 19, 2013There was a moment Saturday, and it was somewhat expected, because there's always a moment with this TCU basketball team when a close game becomes not so close, and a brief lead fades into the past.
On Saturday, against Iowa State, that moment might have came later than normal, but it surely had all the usual effect.
Layup. Free throw. Three-pointer. Steal. Dunk.
In less than two minutes, the Cyclones' lead had grown from two to 10, and TCU trailed 34-24 with 2:05 left in the first half.
The Horned Frogs wouldn't get closer than eight points the rest of the game, as Iowa State went on to win 63-50, handing TCU its fifth straight Big 12 loss.
Tyrus McGee led all scorers, putting in 16 points for the Cyclones. Garlon Green, Devonta Abron and Charles Hill Jr. each scored 10 points for the Frogs.
Like Wednesday against Kansas State, the Frogs started well, holding three leads and tying Iowa State at 22-22 12 minutes into the game.
But their minor lapse shortly after that cost them, TCU coach Trent Johnson said.
"I told them at the 10-minute mark, here's where we've collapsed, and (Iowa State) went on a 14-4 run before the half," TCU coach Trent Johnson said "And there's your basketball game, so to speak."
The Cyclones' run, which resulted in a 36-26 halftime lead, put pressure on the Frogs' offense in the second half, Johnson said.
"They went on a 14-4 run, and now they have cushion" Johnson said. "Our margin of error is extremely slim, meaning we don't shoot very well from the free throw line, we haven't shown a tendency to make too many open shots, and it puts a lot of pressure on your defense against a team that's really talented, really skilled and really experienced."
At that point, Iowa State was able to slip into a up-tempo rhythm, said Cyclone forward Melvin Ejim, who scored 10 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
"We were just giving them too many opportunities on second chance," Ejim said. "We weren't grabbing the rebound like we wanted to and pushing it up like we wanted to and getting that fast-paced basketball we like to play. Once we started doing that and rebounding better and kicking it out, we started playing like we normally do."
For TCU, it's a learning process, Johnson said. His team has to adapt when it gives up a few buckets, or falls into a deficit.
"The things that we can control, the things we keep telling them, is that when we get in those positions, you have to stay the course, and that's where your mental toughness is," Johnson said.
TCU shot 20-of-55 (36 percent) from the field, including making just 1-of-10 three-pointers. Iowa State wasn't entirely efficient from behind the arc, shooting just 5-of-18, but the Cyclones made those buckets count.
Will Clyburn's second three of the game tied the game at 14-14 at the 11:15 mark of the first half, lessening some of TCU's early momentum.
Clyburn finished with 12 points, but it was McGee who made perhaps the biggest shots Saturday.
His three-pointer with 2:41 left in the first half extended Iowa State's lead to 32-24, its largest of the game. McGee followed on the next possession with the dunk that gave the Cyclones a 10-point cushion they enjoyed most of the way through.
And when TCU threatened in the second half, McGee was there, too, knocking down a three-pointer from the corner to put his team up 49-34, at that point blowing the game open.
TCU tried to rally late in the game, and even cut the lead to eight with 2:17 left. But then Korie Lucious, silent most of the afternoon, made a running layup in the lane to extend the Cyclones' lead to 10. The Frogs wouldn't get any closer.
"When you're undermanned, and you play against really talented teams, it really tests your competitiveness, your mental toughness, in terms of staying within what you've been asked to do," Johnson said.
TCU will be back in action Wednesday at West Virginia. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.