Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones breeze past McNeese State


Tyler Coe

Tamin Lipsey scores a tough 2 against McNeese on Dec. 11, 2022.

AMES — The men of Iowa State basketball returned home to Hilton Coliseum Sunday as they took on the McNeese State Cowboys.

Thursday night’s game against in-state rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes, was the teams first road test. As the game did not result in the Cyclones favor, Sunday was their chance to bounce back.

“I was happy with how they responded,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Certainly a performance we’re not proud of, especially in a rivalry but what you can do is learn from it and not let it happen again.”

McNeese State came into the game with a 3-6 record and a 52-49 win over Northern Iowa on Friday. However, the Cowboys were unable to leave Ames with a win in their hands.

Here are three big takeaways from Iowa State’s 77-40 win.

No Caleb Grill

There was a slight switch in the starting line up for the Cyclones. As Caleb Grill was out with an illness, Gabe Kalscheur took Grill’s starting spot.

“We knew not only was he going to be starting but that it was going to be heavy minutes,” Otzelberger said.

Kalscheur played all 40 minutes.

Grill has been a fairly large contributor to the Cyclones so far this season. Grill had 31 points over their win over No. 1 North Carolina who has since dropped out of the AP top 25 poll.

While the game against North Carolina was Grill’s best game so far this season, Grill has tended to be on the court for almost all 40 minutes.

Nonetheless, Grill’s absence did not seem to be too much of an issue for Iowa State. Aljaz Kunc came out hot with a three pointer to start off the evening and Jaren Holmes did the same just minutes later.

Otzelberger said Grill had flu-like symptoms and would check up on him tonight.

Bouncing back

It’s understandable the Cyclones looked more comfortable on their home court than they did against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

A basket by Holmes with half a second left in the half resulted in a foul on McNeese putting Holmes at the free throw line and allowing for a three point play and a nine point lead.

However, although shots went in more consistently this time around than against the Hawkeyes, McNeese State didn’t stay too far behind.

The Cowboys trailed by nine at the half as the Cyclones led 33-24.

Fouls also did not seem to be a huge part of Sunday’s game. Compared to the Cyclones 20 fouls against Iowa, they had six in the first half and ended with 21.

On the other side of the court, however, McNeese State had 10 fouls in the first half putting Iowa State in double bonus. However, they also ended with 21 fouls.

As the Cyclones have mentioned that they want to be the best defensive team in the country, their dominant defense forced 30 McNeese State turnovers, with 36 points occurring from the turnovers.

The Cyclones also had 27 rebounds, with eight of them being offensive rebounds.

Aljaz Kunc shoots a layup against McNeese on Dec. 11, 2022. (Tyler Coe)

“Guys came out with great intent, took a lot of pride getting stops,” Otzelberger said about the way the team came out in the second half.

It takes everyone

From the bench to the court, each Cyclone contributed to the team’s win. Whether it was the Hilton Magic from fans, the coaches or the players making baskets, everyone was needed for the comeback win and multiple players received season highs.

Kunc scored a season-high of 21 points and also led in rebounds with eight. Kalscheur and Holmes also had successful scoring, with 15 points for Kalschur and 17 for Holmes.

“Obviously, it was a good performance, but all of us, ya know, we showed up ready to play and brought the energy back to Hilton,” Kunc said.

Kalscheur had a season-high in assists (5). Freshman Tamin Lipsey also earned a season-high with eight assists.

Eli King and Conrad Hawley also saw the court for the last remaining minutes. King earned his season-high of five points.

The Cyclones shot 55% in field goals and 56% in three-pointers.

“All we need to do is focus on this week and the game that we have on Sunday,” Kunc said.

The Cyclones will stay home for their next three games. Their next game will be against Western Michigan on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum. That game is set to tip off at noon.