AMES, Iowa (AP) — TCU's Kyan Anderson considered the question, which seemed logical considering the circumstances.
Suppose Iowa State's Melvin Ejim had not gone off like he did with his Big 12-record 48 points on Saturday. Could TCU have finally won a conference game?
"It's hard to say that," Anderson said after his team's 84-69 loss to the 16th-ranked Cyclones. "He had that game and that's just what we were dealt."
Anderson, who led the Horned Frogs (9-13, 0-10 Big 12) with 27 points and eight assists, said his team made a special effort to rebound and felt the Horned Frogs held their own in that area, even though Ejim pulled down a career-high 18 for his 30th career double-double.
But it came down to the Horned Frogs' inability to contain Ejim around the basket. The 6-foot-6 senior made 20 of 24 shots, including two 3-pointers and six dunks. One of the slams came on a spectacular fast-break lob from DeAndre Kane and gave the Cyclones (18-4, 6-4) a 67-52 lead, effectively putting the game out of reach.
"It's not every day that somebody comes out and scores that many points," Anderson said. "It was a good job on their part. They felt like they had a mismatch and they abused it and that's what they got. I definitely tip my hat to him."
Ejim scored 20 straight Iowa State points during one stretch in the second half and topped the previous conference record of 44 points by Kansas State's Denis Clemente in 2009 and the Wildcats' Michael Beasley in 2008. His previous high had been 23 points against Oklahoma last season.
Iowa State's school record is 54 by Lafester Rhodes in an overtime victory over Iowa in 1987.
The Cyclones needed Ejim's points because TCU kept matching them basket for basket down the stretch. That's why Ejim stayed in the game until there were 19.9 seconds remaining, when he left to a lengthy standing ovation.
"We probably played about as well as we have in spurts," TCU coach Trent Johnson said. "We battled. For us to be within striking distance with about four minutes to go, I can't fault what our kids did."