Cyclones ready to step up for top-15 matchup despite injuries


Tyler Coe

Tamin Lipsey and Jaren Holmes help teammate Caleb Grill off the floor after a hustle play against Baylor on Dec. 31, 2022.

Hailey Dohnal, Assistant Sports Editor

After their third road loss on Saturday, the No. 12 Iowa State men’s basketball team will return to Hilton Coliseum Tuesday night to take on No. 5 Kansas State. 

Even after this 61-59 loss to unranked Oklahoma State, the Cyclones remained No. 12 in Monday’s top-25 AP poll. However, the Wildcats jumped eight spots from No. 13 to No. 5 after their 68-58 win over Texas Tech. 

Kansas State currently has a record of 17-2 with only one Big 12 loss over Texas on Jan. 3. The Wildcats also stand at No. 1 in the Big 12 rankings with the Cyclones at the fourth spot behind Texas and Kansas. 

“It’s going to be a war tomorrow,” Jaren Holmes said. “We need to be ready to fight.” 

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said he doesn’t care what the records are of the ten teams in the Big 12. 

“It’s [the Big 12] better than it’s ever been,” Otzelberger said. “The numbers say that and the wins say that. You’ve got to be mentally tough every single day.” 

In Monday morning’s press availability, teammate Osun Osunniyi said Holmes’ “best position” is doing whatever he can to help his team come out with a win.

“Scoring, facilitating, whatever we need him to do, he does it,” Osunniyi said.  

Additionally, the Cyclones will need to continue to overcome adversity as the team will more than likely be without one of their top players, Caleb Grill. 

Grill originally hurt his back in their game against Texas and Otzelberger said the pain resurfaced against Oklahoma State. 

Otzelberger said Grill did not practice Monday. 

“We’re always going to act in the best interest of his health and safety, so wherever that ends up that ends up,” Otzelberger said. 

The group lost Jeremiah Williams before the season after an Achilles injury and is currently without Aljaž Kunc after a broken finger. 

Otzelberger said Kunc is still probably a few weeks away from returning to the court. 

Osun and Holmes said even with the injuries, they’ve done a good job staying together. 

“I think guys have stepped up,” Osunniyi said. “Credit to those guys, coming in and stepping up and their role being pushed a little more with guys being out.” 

Some of those “guys” include players like Tre King, Demarion Watson and Hason Ward. 

No matter what the circumstance may end up being Tuesday night, with Grill being limited in his abilities, Otzelberger said other players will need to step up and be ready to play more minutes. 

“It gives our team some different strengths,” Otzelberger said. “It’s our versatility and how we prepare mentally that our guys are ready to step in and do that.” 

Otzelberger said Kansas State does a great job in transition and that they are a fast team who plays at a competitive level. 

“They’re a really good team,” Otzelberger said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Cyclones and Wildcats with tip off at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum. The game will stream on ESPNU.