Iowa State playing with a new identity ahead of TCU rematch

Solomon Young shoots a contested mid-range shot against Kansas on Feb. 13 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Matt Belinson

Iowa State missed out on a chance to take down No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday and have yet to pull out a conference victory, but the Cyclones are feeling like a completely different team — one with a growing identity ahead of its Senior Day rematch with TCU on Saturday.

The Cyclones know the previous game with the Horned Frogs on Feb. 9 (a 79-76 TCU win) was a missed chance to grab the team’s first Big 12 victory, with the team leading TCU by 8 with 12 minutes left, only for the momentum, like most other games this season, to slip away down the stretch.

But over Iowa State’s last two games, the new-look lineup of Tre Jackson and Tyler Harris mixed with usual starters Jalen Coleman-Lands, Solomon Young and Rasir Bolton, has played at much higher intensity in the mind of Head Coach Steve Prohm.

The increased shot-making and energy of this group has been a welcomed sign for Prohm and the Cyclones, but the wins haven’t come from the different lineup with just four games left in the regular season.

On Friday, Prohm said looking back on how Feb. 9 went in Fort Worth, Texas, he expects to see this lineup fare better in some areas that were lackluster a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, there’s no question about it,” Prohm said when asked if the previous game Feb. 9 should have been an Iowa State win. “We’re up 9 with two minutes to go in the first half, and [TCU] goes 9-0 to end the half and it’s just a couple poor transition opportunities for us, a couple bad possessions, and that was a big, big game changer right there. Credit them for coming back but that’s one we thought we deserved to get.”

Iowa State struggled to defend the glass, guard the dribble and rebound, leading to the team’s collapse over the final 10 minutes in the second half in Prohm’s recollection. 

The Cyclones went 8:52 without a made field goal against TCU, allowing the Horned Frogs to steal the game back for themselves and thus ending the Cyclones’ hopes of getting the zero off its conference record.

While the new identity for the Cyclones has been to play a more extreme version of small-ball, with no player in the starting lineup standing over 6-foot 8-inches tall, the rebounding aspect of the Feb. 9 loss might be hard to make up.

One of those players is redshirt senior Young, who will be honored along with three other players for Senior Day on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. 

The redshirt senior told the media Friday he won’t be coming back next season but said this lineup has gelled together more and more, and they have continued to make unselfish plays and guard the ball at a higher rate than before.

“The biggest thing was rebounding and executing down the line,” Young said. “It was a very close game, and I think there were a few possessions where we kind of gave it away.” 

Iowa State (2-17, 0-14 Big 12) and TCU (11-10, 4-8 Big 12) will tip-off at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.