Three Big Takeaways: Grill’s heroics help boost Cyclones over Sooners


Tyler Coe

Caleb Grill during a 73-57 win against Western Michigan on Dec. 18, 2022.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

No. 25 Iowa State men’s basketball got going early, and despite some struggles as the game progressed, came away with a 63-60 road win against Oklahoma on Wednesday.

A 2-0 start to Big 12 play, and a conference win on the road were both on the line and the Cyclones took advantage in a tightly contested game.

Game of runs

Iowa State had played just one true road game entering Wednesday, and in that game, the Cyclones fell behind 15-0 quickly. The environment rattled them, and the players discussed finding a way to not let that happen again.

It was a much calmer atmosphere in Norman, Oklahoma, with students still away due to winter break. The Cyclones did not hesitate to take advantage of that, firing on all cylinders.

A 10-15 start shooting played a prime factor in Iowa State getting off to a 25-7 lead.

T.J. Otzelberger said weeks ago that strong starts can be a difficult thing to instill in a team, because at the end of the day either team can come out of the gates with streaky shooting. It was the Cyclones that were hot out of the gates Wednesday.

Directly after the Cyclone run, the Sooners came right back with a 20-0 run, tying the game at 29 at the half. While the first half ended in a tie game, there was not much back-and-forth going on in the first half.

Grill stays cooking

For the second time in a row to start Big 12 play, Caleb Grill played a major role in keeping the offense rolling. Grill had 18 points in the team’s win over No. 12 Baylor on Saturday, and fired right back with 20 points on 5-9 shooting on Wednesday.

The game was down to the wire, tied at 58 with under a minute to play. Grill had one last chance to be a hero and took advantage, knocking down a contested three pointer from the top of the key.

Grill has not shied away from the moment all season long, which Otzelberger has credited to the “veteran” coming out of him late in the games.

Every season there are a few names that rise to the top of the list of people that will need to step up for their team to win games in the postseason, and Grill could be one of these players.

Crucial conference start

Just as getting off to a strong start in a game is critical, getting off to a strong start in Big 12 play can determine the remainder of a team’s season.

With Iowa State not starting 2-0 in Big 12 play since 2018, there was a lot at stake against Oklahoma.

With Grill, Tamin Lipsey and Osun Osunniyi all coming up big in the clutch, the Cyclones were able to get it done in the second half.

Next up for the Cyclones is a matchup with No. 17 TCU on Saturday.