‘Just another game’: Cyclones set to take on Tyrese Hunter and the Longhorns

After a heartbreaking road loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, the No. 12 Iowa State men’s basketball team will return to its home court Tuesday to take on another Big 12 rival, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns.

The Cyclones and Longhorns are both 4-1 in Big 12 play with Texas’ loss being to Kansas State. The Longhorns are also 2-0 in away games so far this season and have an overall record of 15-2, just slightly better than Iowa State whose record is 13-3.

In the current Big 12 standings, Texas is in third with Iowa State in fourth.

Not only are the Longhorns tough competition, but the Cyclones will be visited by former teammate Tyrese Hunter.

Hunter transferred to Texas after his freshman year in the 2021-22 season. Additionally, Hunter was a large asset to the Cyclones’ successes in the 2022 season.

Hunter started all 35 games, which set a Cyclone record for starts by a freshman, and broke the Iowa State freshman record for assists (172) and steals (71).

“I have gratitude and thankfulness for all the guys that were on our team last year and what they did to help jumpstart our program,” said head coach T.J. Otzelbeger.

However, Otzelberger said his focus is on his current team and doing what they can to keep climbing.

“I really love coaching our group,” Otzelberger said. “They come to practice every day with a great attitude, mindset and work ethic and we’re going to carry that forward to the games.”

Even with the benefits Hunter brought to Iowa State, Otzelberger and his team are not treating this game any differently.

“This is just another game for us,” Caleb Grill said. “It’s another opportunity that we have to get a quality win for our schedule.”

In addition, the Cyclone are preparing to take on the Longhorns the same way that they would prepare for any other opponent.

Grill said that their preparation consists of sticking to the same habits and principles they’ve had all season.

Freshman Tamin Lipsey said the atmosphere of the Allen Fieldhouse was a part of what put the Cyclones a step behind the Jayhawks on Saturday afternoon.

“It took us a while to adjust to that,” Lipsey said.

Something the team learned from their 62-60 loss to Kansas was they need to come out and “punch them in the mouth,” according to Grill.

Grill said Iowa State will need to find ways to slow down the Longhorns and get them out of their comfort zone. The team will also need to be aggressive on the defensive side of the court and be “highly disruptive,” according to Otzelberger.

“If we play our game,I think we can have a lot of success with that,” Grill said.

The Hilton Coliseum crowd also helps bring the energy needed for the team’s success.

“Every game at Hilton we got to win. Our crowd does a really good job of giving us a lot of support,” Grill said. “We got to take care of the home court.”

Otzelberger said every game in the Big 12 is a challenge as it is the toughest league in the country. Nonetheless, unity, togetherness and playing for one another will be the main focus for success.

“If they’re not wearing our jersey, then they’re going against us,” Lipsey said.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum and can be streamed on ESPN+.