Three Big Takeaways: No. 23 Cyclones battle it out with St. John’s


Tyler Coe

Tamin Lipsey shoots a layup against St. Johns on Dec. 4, 2022.

AMES — After a 63-44 win over North Dakota Wednesday, the Iowa State men’s basketball team returned to their home court to take on the undefeated St. John’s Red Storm.

After a sluggish start against the Fighting Hawks, the Cyclones came out hot and ready to compete Sunday. With each made basket, the Hilton Coliseum crowd continued to get louder and louder.

Even with a large lead from start to finish, Iowa State battled up and down the court, and it was clear that they were in it to win it.

Here are the three big takeaways from the Cyclones 71-60 win.

Confident offense

The first basket of the afternoon was a dunk by St. Bonaventure transfer Osun Osunniyi, and shortly after came a three-pointer from the other St. Bonaventure transfer, Jaren Holmes.

The Cyclones shot 44% in the first half and 43% from the three-point range. Free throws also stayed consistent as they shot 75% (6-8).

“We got more free throws, we had more baskets at the rim and then we took the three when it presented itself,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “I think it was a really good balance for our offense.”

The St. John’s team struggled to keep up with Iowa State, scoring just two points within the first six minutes and seven points with seven minutes remaining.

“I think overall it was just good offense,” Holme said about the way the team was able to stop St. John’s momentum. “Not bad shots, not quick shots…that’s not what they wanna do.”

However, the Red Storm found their groove and worked their way up to score 22 points in the first half, only 11 points behind the Cyclones.

Points off turnovers were also beneficial to both teams. The Cyclones started off strong defensively, forcing multiple turnovers on St. John’s but ultimately ended up with 12 themselves compared to St. John’s 20.

From those turnovers on both ends, the Red Storm scored nine points, and the Cyclones scored 16.

However, the Cyclones’ defensive pressure continued to push St. John’s.

“We put them in a really tough spot in how we guarded,” Otzelberger said.

Robert Jones on the block against St. Johns on Dec. 4, 2022. (Tyler Coe)

Osunniyi and Holmes said while they feel they played probably their best defensive game of the season so far, they are still focused on getting better.

“We want to be the best defensive team in the county,” Osunniyi said.
Tamin Lipsey came out from the half with back-to-back baskets, and the team stayed consistent with their shooting from the first half.

Jaren Holmes led the team in points (14) with Caleb Grill being the leader in rebounds (10).

“When you focus on doing fundamental things with a great intent and a commitment, then you’re able to control the game like we were able to do pretty much from start to finish today,” Otzelberger said.

A fighting battle

Both teams brought their fight to the floor both mentally and physically as technical fouls were dropped left and right, making it that much more difficult for St. John’s to score.

Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo was given a technical after shoving Tamin Lipsey who was also given a technical. Not long after came a technical foul on the St. John’s head coach, Mike Anderson, after he stepped onto the court.

“That’s just what we wanna do as a team–frustrate teams,” Osunniyi said.

With just minutes remaining in the first half, two more technical fouls were given to Gabe Kalscheur and St. John’s player Joel Soriano after another heated situation. Additionally, Kalscheur had four fouls in the half but never fouled out.

“We could’ve been better today,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve gotta have the mental toughness to just do what we do and not worry about any of that. That has nothing to do with us, and we’re not going to let it.”

It was a total of five technical fouls in just the first half.

Holmes said at the end of the day. However, they are just out there playing basketball.

The next one

It seemed that each Cyclone that stepped onto the court gave it their all, with each one scoring at least two points.

The battle will continue as the annual CyHawk matchup will be the Cyclones’ next challenge.

After a 73-53 win on their home court in 2021, the Cyclones will travel to Iowa City Thursday to face the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“It’s just a continued reconnection to the habits that we have every day,” Otzelberger said. “It’s the ball pressure; it’s the rebounding; it’s commanding the game.”

Otzelberger said if the team can stay committed to those three things, the outcomes will go their way.

The game is set for 7 p.m. on FS1.