Iowa State prepares for rubber match at Big 12 Championship


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Will Clyburn runs the ball during the loss 108-96 against Kansas on Feb. 25 at Hilton Coliseum. Clyburn had a total of 16 points at the game. 

Dean Berhow-Goll

The ISU men’s basketball team will attempt to do something it hasn’t done in seven years on Thursday, March 14, 2013: Win a game at the Big 12 Championship. 

With all the parity in the Big 12 has seen this season — not to mention a final regular season weekend where No. 1-seeded Kansas lost by 23 to Baylor, No. 2-seeded Kansas State lost, along with No. 4-seeded Oklahoma losing to TCU — it’s easy to see why ISU coach Fred Hoiberg thinks a Big 12 title is up for grabs. 

“I think it’s very wide open,” Hoiberg said. “I think it’ll be a very competitive, fun conference tournament.”

Iowa State (21-10, 11-7 Big 12) comes into the conference tournament as the No. 5 seed against No. 4 Oklahoma (20-10. 11-7).

One of Iowa State’s best wins on its resume was a 83-64 win against Oklahoma on Feb. 4, then one of its worst losses came 26 days later on the road to Oklahoma in an 86-69 loss. It was the only loss Hoiberg characterized as “getting their butts kicked.”

In the win, the Cyclones assisted on 18 of their 28 made buckets. In the loss, they only had eight assists on 23 made baskets, a stark contrast in terms of ball movement. 

A similar thing occurred against West Virginia in Iowa State’s regular season finale 83-74 win last Saturday, tallying 15 assists on 26 made buckets, 14 of which were 3-pointers. 

In the second half, however, slow ball movement led to Iowa State’s lackluster performance, allowing West Virginia to surge for 54 points and turning a blowout into a nail-biter. 

“I thought first half against West Virginia that thing was flying around, those first 25 minutes were beautiful offense,” Hoiberg said. “Then we got stagnant, and you can see what happens when we don’t move the ball. So you’ve got to have 40 minutes of proper execution, then you’ve got to get back and execute your game plan.”

Iowa State’s leading scorer and recently announced Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Will Clyburn, had a similar thought to his coach.

During the team’s meeting following the Oklahoma blowout loss, Clyburn said he was called out about his consistency and how he needs to bring his energy every game.

After the team meeting, Clyburn went on tear for the final two games of the season, scoring 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting in a 87-76 win against No. 13 Oklahoma State, while capping off the regular season with a 27-point performance against West Virginia. 

“When we don’t play together, we’re not very good,” Clyburn said. “When we play together we’re a great team — that’s one thing we learned from that beatdown we took.”

Now Clyburn and Iowa State will fix two areas exploited by Oklahoma in the second meeting: Rebounding and getting stops. 

Iowa State allowed Oklahoma to score 40 points in the first half while shooting more than 50 percent from the field and were out-rebounded 33-21.

“Stops and rebounds,” Clyburn. “Our offense is always there, we’ve just got to focus on defending and rebounding and I’m thinking we’ll go a long way.” 

Tipoff is at 11:30 a.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.