Iowa State faces Oklahoma State, but this time at full strength

Iowa State redshirt junior Javan Johnson (right) celebrates after Rasir Bolton (left) draws a foul call against Kansas on Feb. 13.

Matt Belinson

Iowa State will continue the search for its first conference win in a rematch with the Oklahoma State Cowboys (13-6, 6-6 Big 12) on Tuesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, except this time, both teams will be back to full strength.

It was just under a month ago Iowa State returned from its COVID-19 pause in a home matchup with the Cowboys on Jan. 25, a game the Cyclones played with six scholarship players available, the minimum amount required to play in this COVID season by the Big 12’s interruption standards.

And with limited support in terms of roster depth and game experience, the Cyclones fell 81-60, and the box score didn’t hide the gap between the teams’ talent that night.

Iowa State was out-rebounded 49-19, outscored 58-22 in the paint, with Oklahoma State also grabbing a 22-4 edge in bench points. 

Rasir Bolton scored 19 points in the loss, along with Tyler Harris, who scored a season-high 18 points. Harris also played a season-high 40 minutes in the 21-point loss to the Cowboys.

Five games have passed since then and Iowa State is continuing its 2020-21 season on a losing path. Iowa State currently sits in last place in the Big 12 (2-14, 0-11 Big 12) and has just five games left to try and snatch a conference victory before season’s end.

The Cyclones will head to Stillwater with many key contributors available who missed the Jan. 25 loss, including Solomon Young, Javan Johnson and Jalen Coleman-Lands.

But Iowa State wasn’t the only team operating with a roster shortage in the first matchup back in January. The Cowboys were missing Cade Cunningham, the Big 12’s leading scorer at 18.5 points per game and who many consider to be the front-runner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot, 8-inch guard has averaged 20 points per game over his last five for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have shown flashes of competitiveness in the Big 12 this season, despite sitting in seventh place in the conference. With wins over then-sixth-ranked Kansas and sixth-ranked Texas, Oklahoma State at full strength has proven to be a tough out for some of the heavy hitters in the league.

Since Head Coach Steve Prohm took over in the 2015-16 season, Iowa State has not lost consecutive games against Oklahoma State since the 2017-18 season.

Iowa State and Oklahoma State will tip off at 3 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.