– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU welcomed back sharp-shooting forward Kouat Noi back with open arms on Saturday, and he returned the favor by firing the Horned Frogs to a season sweep of one of the top teams in the Big 12 Conference.
Back after missing two games with an ankle injury, Noi hit four three-pointers on his way to 20 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as the Horned Frogs came from behind in the second half to defeat No. 19 Iowa State 75-72 at Schollmaier Arena. Both of TCU’s victories against ranked opponents this season have come against the Cyclones.
“We’re certainly not as good a team when we don’t have him,” said TCU head coach Jamie Dixon.
The Horned Frogs lost both games Noi missed over the past seven days — a home loss to Oklahoma and an away defeat against Oklahoma State — but the forward made an immediate impact on his return, grabbing 10 of his rebounds in the first half then scoring 16 of his 23 points in the second half as he looked none the worse for wear after rolling his ankle in practice last week.
“It’s getting better every day. It wasn’t bothering me on the court,” Noi said. “It gives us a lot of confidence. We’ve just got to keep going, keep getting better.”
TCU built a 10-point lead late in the first half, but an extended Iowa State run found the Cyclones up 60-56 with 7:53 remaining. Noi then scored the next eight points for the Horned Frogs, sandwiching two three-pointers around a couple of free throws, with his second three giving TCU a 64-62 advantage with 6:15 left.
Guard Desmond Bane also hit two late three-pointers for the Horned Frogs, including a three that broke a 68-all tie that gave TCU the lead for good. Noi hit two free throws late for the final points of the game, and Iowa State missed two potential game-tying three-pointers in the final two possessions.
Missing three-pointers was a theme for the Cyclones, as they hit just two of 20 from long range and missed all nine shots from beyond the arc in the first half.
“At times, we were getting good looks, but a couple were rushed, bad shots, and they were running us off the line,” said Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton, who scored 15 points.
TCU point guard Al;ex Robinson joined Noi in putting up a double-double, with 12 points and 10 assists. Forward JD Miller had 17 points and nine rebounds while Bane added 16.
Marial Shayok, the Cyclones’ leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, was saddled with foul trouble all game long and was held to just four points in 16 minutes played. Michael Jacobson led four players in double figures in scoring for Iowa State with 17 points.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 26 pictures in total.