Cyclones get ready for another top-five matchup

Tre Jackson passes the ball against No.2 Baylor on Jan 2.

Zane Douglas

Iowa State men’s basketball’s schedule has ramped up since 2021 started, with a game against No. 2 Baylor last Saturday and now a Tuesday game against No. 4 Texas.

The Cyclones are back to full strength for their second straight game with guard Tre Jackson back into the mix, but it will be another tough test for them.

“We preach in the locker room ‘we don’t want any moral victories,'” Jackson said. “Those are not really W’s, those are just W’s in people’s eyes that thought we did a good job.”

While the season has started poorly for the Cyclones, they have actually had their best games of the year when playing high-end competition.

Iowa State has played three ranked teams in the 2020-21 season and all three were in the top 10 at the time and all were in the Big 12.

Its games against unranked opponents have not gone well, but the Cyclones have been close to upsetting No. 8 at the time West Virginia and No. 2 Baylor.

The Saturday game against Baylor was close the whole time until the end when a flurry of mistakes made the game look like more of a blowout than it was.

The key to the game for the Cyclones in most games they’ve played in so far is to limit turnovers while shooting efficiently.

Iowa State shot 48.1 percent overall and 40 percent from three against Baylor, but 21 turnovers sunk them. It was one of the best shooting performances of the year and it was done by four different players in double figures.

Forward Javan Johnson led the way with 17 points and his early season struggles didn’t show themselves as much against Baylor.

Johnson did still rack up six turnovers which hurt Iowa State, but his 17 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting was welcome for Head Coach Steve Prohm and his team after some inefficient performances.

Overall, the point guard play has been shaky. It didn’t change against the Bears with guard Rasir Bolton and Johnson combining for 11 turnovers as the team’s primary ball handlers.

On the flip side. Texas has had an excellent season, with its only loss coming to now No. 3 Villanova.

The Longhorns jumped four spots in the latest Associated Press poll thanks to a dominating win over then No. 3 Kansas.

The Jayhawks shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 13 percent from three while Texas shot 49.2 percent overall and 46.2 percent from distance.

“They got really good guard play, defensively they’ve been really good — Shaka’s teams have always been good defensively — and then they’re almost 40 percent from three in conference play,” Prohm said.

The Cyclones wil need to prove that they’ll be able to hang with any team in the conference after making that statement against two of the better teams in the country earlier in the year.

Texas and Iowa State’s game will start at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.