Iowa State plays West Virginia under much different circumstances

George Conditt IV defends the basket against Baylor on Jan. 2 at Hilton Coliseum.

Zane Douglas

Hopeful to get back to full strength, Iowa State men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Prohm and the Cyclones are looking for a bounce back win after a historically bad defeat with a game against the No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers on Tuesday.

“This last week was tough. Tough in a lot of areas,” Prohm said. “Saturday is one of those games, you see it all across the country though. Take it, man, get rid of it and get ready for West Virginia where we know we played them really well.”

The Mountaineers are without Oscar Tshiebwe, who made a decision to transfer from West Virginia to Kentucky earlier in the season. Tshiebwe had a solid game against the Cyclones in their Dec. 18 meeting where the Mountaineers bested Iowa State 70-65.

It was the closest loss the Cyclones have played in conference play and Tshiebwe was a big part of that, going 4-5 shooting with 12 points, five rebounds and one steal, block and assist in the game.

While he has been sorely missed for West Virginia, Iowa State has been trying to staple a team together in its last couple games as handfuls of players sit out due to COVID-19 protocols.

The most influential of those is redshirt senior Solomon Young, who Prohm sounded optimistic about when discussing the prospect of him returning soon.

Prohm also said he thinks they’ll be closer to full strength soon as the now almost month of play not at full strength can come to an end, minus the season-ending injuries of Xavier Foster and Blake Hinson.

In Iowa State’s last game, nothing went right as the team sat at an abysmal 26 percent shooting in a blowout second half that ended in a 95-56 loss to Mississippi State.

Nowhere to be found in the offense was forward George Conditt, who had a tough task playing as the only traditional big man against a physically imposing team in the Bulldogs.

Conditt made the most of his opportunities on the glass, reaching double digit rebounds for the first time all season, but he didn’t even attempt a single shot attempt, finishing with only one point at the free-throw line.

Foster and Young being out have put pressure on Conditt, but Prohm thought the team and himself could’ve drawn things up differently to get Conditt more involved.

“We’ve gotta get the ball inside, we’ve gotta get paint touches and we’ve gotta finish,” Prohm said. “We want to throw it in there. Again, if you’ve been watching us that’s been a focal point and something we’ve stressed.

“We didn’t do a great job with it the other day.”

Conditt said he needs to be better and also referred to his play in the 2019-20 season as evidence that he’s not playing as well this season.

Whether Young is back or not, Conditt will get more chances with Foster out for the year and a clear lack of size being shown as a major issue for Iowa State.

Conditt also said that at a certain point, the players need to start stepping up and into the roles that have been laid out for them

“The focus has to be on the players,” Conditt said. “The determination has to be on the players. The can’t give up attitude has to be on the players.”

The 11-5 Mountaineers have played close games in their last two, losing to Florida 85-80 on Saturday and beating then-No. 10 Texas Tech 88-87 on Jan. 25.

But their last face-off with Iowa State is not just long gone in terms of the time that has passed between then and now, but also in terms of the personnel on both teams.

That makes the game Tuesday a whole new landscape.