ISU men roll past Texas A&M, head on the road to Baylor


Guard Chris Allen goes up for a 3-pointer over the Texas A&M opposition during the game on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Allen led the team in scoring with a total of 25 points throughout the game.

Jeremiah Davis

In, presumably, its final matchup with Texas A&M as conference foes, the ISU men’s basketball team sent the Aggies back to College Station, Texas, with a 69-46 victory.

The 23-point win came off a two-point loss to Oklahoma State on Tuesday in Stillwater, Okla. At practice on Thursday, guard Chris Allen said the team was treating its final seven games like tournament games — every one was a must win.

“That shows that we’re still going in the right direction,” Allen said when asked about the Cyclones responding well to the loss Tuesday. “We came in, everyone was focused on what they had to do, focused on the game plan, and we executed it to a tee.”

The Cyclones (18-7, 8-4 Big 12) beat the Aggies (12-12, 3-9) in nearly every statistical category. Most notable of those was the rebounding by Iowa State, who beat A&M 38-22 on the glass.

Forward Royce White tied with Melvin Ejim for a game-high 10 rebounds, and said following the game Saturday that protecting the boards is something Iowa State has been focusing on lately.

“If we win on the glass, then we’re probably going to be the winner in every battle,” White said. “I don’t recollect what we did down at [Oklahoma State] on the glass, but we didn’t do what we wanted to do. I think tonight we just focused in and did what we needed to do.”

The ISU men also accumulated 18 team assists on 25 made baskets in the game, while only committing 12 turnovers. That kind of efficiency is something coach Fred Hoiberg said he loves to see, especially this late in the season.

“We’re going out there and playing the right way right now,” Hoiberg said. “Every single time we take the floor, we’re playing the right way. You look at 18 assists on 25 baskets, that’s a prime example that we’re out there making the extra pass, playing very unselfishly and playing with great purpose.”

Despite the satisfying win, in which Hoiberg said his team played “one of our most complete games this year,” the Cyclones don’t have much time to reflect. The team faces off against No. 6 — though that ranking will likely drop due to losses to Kansas and Missouri — Baylor on Monday.

A turnaround that quick is never easy, but Hoiberg believes his team is ready for it. The second-year coach took measures to keep his players fresh by sitting them during Saturday’s game more than he usually might.

“It’s hard, [but] it’s good to get our guys some rest,” Hoiberg said of the quick turnaround. “It’s tough. [Baylor’s] length is ridiculous.”

Hoiberg said he watched some of the Bears’ loss to Missouri prior to tipoff on Saturday and saw a lot of matchup issues. Most notable was the size of Baylor’s leading scorer and rebounder, forward Perry Jones III.

Despite that, Hoiberg remains confident based on what he’s seen out of his team in Big 12 play.

“That’s a tough battle. Someone’s got to guard Perry Jones at the three spot. He’s 6-11, a guy like Chris Babb is 6-5,” Hoiberg said. “So we’re going to be giving up some length, but if we go down there and play physical and go down there and play with confidence, I like our chances against anybody.”

Should the Cyclones get a win in Waco, Texas, against the Bears, they would claim sole possession of third place in the Big 12 standings, something important to the selection committee when it comes to picking NCAA Tournament teams.

White said he knows he and his teammates are up to the challenge.

“I would think that everybody in the organization is embracing it,” White said. “Any time you’ve got a chance to go up against a top-ten team; a high profile team like that, and what’s on the line now — that sole possession of third place — you’ve just got to embrace it and be hungry.”