Iowa State men’s basketball looks to fare better in this year’s contest with Iowa

Iowa State senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands brings the ball up the floor against South Dakota State on Dec. 2.

Zane Douglas

A tradition that had gone on for decades on the football field, the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game was interrupted this year as a global pandemic changed the landscape of college football.

Both football teams have both gone on to have solid seasons, but the men’s basketball teams were not quite so similar.

Iowa State men’s basketball will go to Iowa City on Friday in hopes to upset the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes on their home court — something the Cyclones haven’t done since Dec. 12, 2014.

“We’re going up against a veteran team,” redshirt senior forward Solomon Young said. “[…] They’re the number three team in the country so we really gotta be locked in.”

It’s been a fairly one-sided rivalry between the two teams lately, despite Iowa State putting up some solid seasons. This year, Iowa comes into the game as one of the premier teams in the country, boasting one of the best players in the NCAA in center Luka Garza.

Garza is putting up a staggering 29.5 points per game to go along with 10.8 rebounds as well. He’s doing all that while shooting 62.9 percent from the floor and 55.6 from distance.

Garza is the main problem for the Cyclones, but when the Hawkeyes played No. 16 North Carolina in their last game, UNC’s size helped to somewhat neutralize Garza, holding him to 16 points on 6-20 shooting.

Iowa still won, thanks in large part to its 3-point shooting, with starters for the Hawkeyes drilling 17 of 31 shots from deep.

“You’re gonna be in disadvantage situations with them a lot,” Head Coach Steve Prohm said. “If you’re gonna try to make them bounce it, or you’re gonna bring help to Garza and you gotta be able to recover and run them off the line.”

Jordan Bohannon was the main benefactor, going 8-17 from the field and 7-16 from the 3-point line, giving him 24 points.

Iowa State’s recent contests have been far less impressive, with the last game ending in a loss for the Cyclones at the hands of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

“A lot of the teams with youth and new guys, they’re going through a learning curve and a learning process right now,” Prohm said. “That’s understood but your basketball character has gotta be really good to where you understand ‘hey, we gotta learn, we gotta continue to grow, we gotta get better and how better can we get over the next couple weeks.'”

Iowa State shot itself in the foot often in that game, but it was South Dakota State’s first win against a Power Five conference team since 2017.

The Cyclones are led by a few players through two games, four of which are averaging double figure points through two games, but the team has struggled in both games with shot selection and 3-point accuracy.

Playing hasn’t even come easy, with Iowa State’s most recent opponent DePaul dealing with COVID-19 troubles, which canceled Iowa State’s Sunday contest.

“It was a bummer, it was something that was unexpected, but like I said before, it’s the new normal,” senior guard transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands said. 

This will also serve as Iowa State’s last game before it plays Kansas State in its first conference game Tuesday.

The Hawkeyes will host the Cyclones at 8 p.m. Friday and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.