Turmoil follows Cyclones into Senior Day battle with Texas Tech


Former Iowa State guard Marial Shayok was drafted in the second round and 54th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Noah Rohlfing

Saturday’s Senior Day game between Texas Tech and Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum is, on paper, a far more important contest for the Red Raiders than the Cyclones. 

Texas Tech is fighting for at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title with Kansas State, and the Red Raiders need a win against the Cyclones to clinch. 

But many Cyclone fans and players feel like this should have been them with everything to play for. Instead, the team has gone into a late-season tailspin, culminating in a lifeless defeat to West Virginia Wednesday night with senior guard Marial Shayok sitting on the sidelines nursing a toe injury. 

The Cyclones’ road win over Texas Tech in January seems like a whole different world.

Shayok will be a game-time decision Saturday, as coach Steve Prohm said the main hurdle is pain management for the senior.

“Obviously, we’ve gotta be smart about it too, and he’s gotta be smart about it,” Prohm said. “It’s a pain thing right now to where I think in another couple days that’ll all be gone.”

The Cyclones’ issues with on-ball defense be tested again with a Red Raiders team that’s on an offensive tear of late. During the team’s current eight-game winning streak, the normally defensive-minded Red Raiders have scored 75 or more points seven times. In that same eight-game stretch, the Cyclones have gone 3-5 and have given up 70 or more points on six occasions. 

After the loss to West Virginia, the Cyclones were ranked outside of the top 50 in the country in adjusted defense on KenPom, somewhere Iowa State hasn’t been all season. 

Redshirt junior forward Michael Jacobson said the Cyclones need to give more effort on defense in order to win. 

“Our offensive numbers are pretty close to the same, and defense is really what’s been hurting us,” Jacobson said. “It is what it is, we’ve got to make a commitment to it.” 

The Red Raiders’ main threat on offense is Jarrett Culver, a potential lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a flashy wing scorer averaging 17.9 points per game. 

The Cyclones will have their hands full. 

But the internal issues that have bubbled up over the past week have taken center stage for Iowa State, and Shayok said the Cyclones had a players-only meeting to clear the air.

“We spoke among ourselves,” Shayok said. “We just kinda came together and just let it be known that we’re just gonna finish out the right way, for each other.”

While there isn’t a lot on the line for Iowa State against Tech, the Cyclones have to find a way to turn their slide around before postseason play begins. 

The drama surrounding the Cyclones has somewhat dampened the conversation around Senior Day festivities. Three seniors will be honored after Saturday’s game: Nick Weiler-Babb, Zoran Talley Jr. and Shayok. 

Nick Weiler-Babb said the moment would be emotional for him. 

“I’ve been around this program for so long,” Weiler-Babb said. “Now with this, my final game at Hilton, it means a lot to me.” 

Prohm added that were Shayok not to play, he would still be honored following the game regardless.

On the surface, Texas Tech has more on the line than Iowa State Saturday afternoon. But a loss for the Cyclones could further their tailspin and make a postseason run that much harder to foresee.