Cyclones look to bounce back in Lubbock

Javan Johnson goes up to the basket in Iowa State’s 81-67 loss to Texas on March 2. 

Zane Douglas

The home conference season is over, and it went as bad as it could for Iowa State, which finished 0-9 at Hilton Coliseum against Big 12 teams. There are still a couple conference games left, however, the first of which will be Thursday in Lubbock, Texas, against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

This will be the second meeting between the Red Raiders and Cyclones; the first was a one-sided affair in Ames. Texas Tech beat Iowa State 91-64 while scorching the Cyclone defense, shooting 58.9 percent for the game.

Since then, Iowa State has lost all 12 games it has played and gone through a multiple-week COVID-19 pause, which happened right after the game against the Red Raiders on Jan. 9.

The Cyclones have most players back, but one big blow sustained Saturday against TCU was to starting point guard Rasir Bolton.

Bolton leads Iowa State in scoring and has been the main floor general and one of the few returning starters from the year before. 

His absence was felt Tuesday against Texas when the Longhorns forced 14 first-half turnovers against Iowa State and beat the Cyclones 81-67.

Bolton is leading the team in scoring, but he hasn’t been their most consistent producer on the offensive end in the past few games.

In the last seven contests, dating back to Feb. 11, guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has averaged 18.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He’s done it all on 40.9 percent 3-point shooting.

In his last two games, Coleman-Lands is averaging 21.5 points and has buried eight of his 13 3-point attempts.

On Jan. 30 against Mississippi State — a game in which he was returning from COVID-19 health and safety protocols and only played 23 minutes — was the last time he finished a game with less than 10 points.

Because of that, Coleman-Lands has become not just a consistent starter but statistically the best-scoring weapon in Head Coach Steve Prohm’s arsenal over the last month.

Bolton’s injury will possibly keep him out another game, so the Cyclones could look to Coleman-Lands again Thursday.

On the Red Raider side, the player to watch is junior Mac McClung.

McClung is scoring 16.3 points per game at a clip of 42.3 percent and 33.9 percent from 3-point range. McClung gets to the line often, averaging 4.9 free-throw attempts per game and making 81.4 percent of them.

McClung had one of his most efficient games against the Cyclones last time, scoring 18 points on 8-10 shooting. He made all seven of his shots inside the 3-point arc as well.

Iowa State and Texas Tech’s game in Lubbock will be televised at 6 p.m. Thursday on ESPN+.