After a pair of subpar scoring efforts, Melvin Ejim was back to his usual self his last time out for Iowa State.
The Big 12's leading scorer was much better than that the last time he saw TCU.Ejim scored a conference-record 48 points two weeks ago against the last-place Horned Frogs and figures to be a marked man Saturday on the road for the No. 17 Cyclones.The 6-foot-6 forward averages 19.1 points, but totaled just 19 in consecutive games before he turned in his second-highest effort of the season with 25 in Tuesday's 85-76 home win over No. 19 Texas. It was part of a balanced attack in which DeAndre Kane scored 22 and Georges Niang added 20."It's obviously important that your key guys are playing well for you," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Even though those guys all scored over 20, I think it was a total team effort."It really wasn't a team effort Feb. 8 when Iowa State (20-5, 8-5) won 84-69 at home over TCU as Ejim put on a show, scoring 20 straight Cyclones points in one stretch. He also grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds in a contest in which he surpassed the 44-point Big 12 mark set by Kansas State's Michael Beasley in 2008 and matched by the Wildcats' Denis Clemente one year later.Ejim fell six points shy of the school record set by Lafester Rhodes in an overtime victory over Iowa in 1987.Horned Frogs coach Trent Johnson lavished praise on Ejim afterward."He is one of my favorite college basketball players in the country this year," Johnson said. "I think he is really underrated. He is a hell of a kid, at least from the interaction I've had with him. He plays extremely hard and he is very efficient."The Horned Frogs (9-16, 0-13) have lost 13 straight entering this rematch between the Big 12's highest and lowest scoring teams. Iowa State averages 84.1 points and TCU is at 64.4."Iowa State is a ranked basketball team, so our margin of error is very small," Johnson admitted.Any hope of a monumental upset likely rests on getting a huge effort from top scorer Kyan Anderson, who scored 27 in the first meeting and is averaging 26.0 in his last four games. That mark actually leads the Big 12 in that span, with Ejim second at 23.0."It seems like the last four or five games, Kyan has played exceptionally well offensively and defensively, making reads in the zone and keeping us in games," Johnson said.All four games during Anderson's scoring binge have been double-digit defeats, including Wednesday's 65-53 loss at Kansas State. The Horned Frogs have also lost 11 straight against ranked foes.Iowa State held a 38-30 edge on the glass in the last meeting, and TCU ranks last in the Big 12 in rebound margin at minus-8.6. The Cyclones are only seventh at plus-0.2, and have been outrebounded in their last two games."It's definitely important for guys like me and Dustin (Hogue), guys that rebound well on the team, to initiate the rebounding. And then everyone comes in," Ejim said. "It sparks us as a team."