The second week of conference play has been one of firsts for Iowa State.
After the ISU men's basketball team (12-4, 2-1 Big 12) knocked off West Virginia with a late game-winning layup on Wednesday in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, the Cyclones will take on TCU (9-8, 0-4) for the first time in Big 12 play on Saturday.
Iowa State enters the game playing at its best with two consecutive wins against Texas and West Virginia. Those wins followed an overtime loss to then No. 6 Kansas on the road.
"I thought we were getting better," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg of his team entering Big 12 play. "Obviously, the Yale game wasn't our best, but you look at the layoff that we had before that, and I think you saw a lot of teams that came out rusty after the Christmas break.
"Since then, our approach has been great."
In the early part of the season, the team struggled with turnovers, but those numbers have been cut down in recent weeks. The team is now playing together and finding success in the first 1 1/2 weeks of conference play.
"It starts with our point guard play, and Korie [Lucious] has been phenomenal really since our loss against Iowa," Hoiberg said. "He really turned the corner and is out there making great plays."
Lucious has scored in double digits in five consecutive games and has 10 games with at least five assists this season. In the team's two conference wins, Lucious has dished out a combined 17 assists.
After sitting out last season following his transfer from Michigan State, Lucious started the season slow. Just in time for conference play, though, the senior has improved.
"He sat out a whole year, and I believe it takes more than a couple of games to get back in the flow of the game," said fellow transfer Will Clyburn. "I feel like he's finally coming around."
Saturday against the Horned Frogs, the Cyclones will face the test of not playing to the level of competition. TCU was a unanimous pick by league coaches to finish last in the conference and has started its inaugural Big 12 season slowly.
At times in nonconference play, including the the team's game against Yale when it trailed 35-27 at halftime, Iowa State has started slowly.
That tendency disappeared with the start of Big 12 play, and the team hopes the new mindset will continue.
"You have a tendency to try and step it up a little more," Lucious said of conference games. "At the same time, the whole season I think we were just trying to get better."
Despite facing TCU, the Cyclones know that no Big 12 game is a certain victory — especially on the road.
"[The] Big 12 is a tough conference," Lucious said. "We know every day, every game, every night is going to be a fight no matter who we're playing."
Iowa State will take on TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:45 p.m.