Iowa State looks to control the pace against Oklahoma


Owen Aanestad

Head Coach Bill Fennelly watches his team against Jacksonville on Dec. 11, 2022.

Payne Blazevich, Sports Reporter

No. 18 Iowa State is riding a three-game winning streak headed into its rematch against No. 14 Oklahoma Saturday afternoon. In a revenge spot, the Cyclones look to slow down the pace of the Sooners. 

Iowa State fell short 82-79 in the previous matchup after making a strong push in the final quarter. The Cyclones had lost center Stephanie Soares to an ACL tear in the first quarter and struggled to find a quick adaptation. 

But after a couple of weeks of preparation and improvement, Iowa State is a better team this time around. 

“This is what we have now. This is who’s gonna play and this is what we’re capable of doing. So let’s go play,” head coach Bill Fennelly said. 

Iowa State was short-handed against Oklahoma after losing Soares, and the Cyclones had trouble stopping the Sooners’ up-tempo offense. Late in the game, Iowa State started running a small ball strategy with guard Nyamer Diew, which helped the Cyclones keep pace. 

They will try to enter Saturday with a high-octane approach, while also working to slow down the Sooners in transition. Diew at the five position is an option for Iowa State, but they can also slow the game down with centers Morgan Kane and Izzi Zingaro down low.

If Iowa State can have control over the pace of the game, the team will be in a better position to win. 

“The pace they play with is unlike any team that we play, so transition defense is something we talk about all the time, but I think with them it’s even more unique,” Fennelly said.

Iowa State has been practicing for Oklahoma’s style of play, using the scout team to simulate the Sooners’ transition offense. The Cyclones have also been preparing for the constant substitution and rotation from the Sooners’ deep bench. 

Iowa State will have to be focused each and every timeout, making sure they keep up with their matchups. With limited depth, the Cyclones have to be more cautious with their own rotations. 

“They play very fast, so we’re definitely going to have to get stops in transition because they really throw the ball ahead and run,” guard Lexi Donarski said. 

Iowa State is in pursuit of its first ranked win in Big 12 play, and the 14th-ranked Sooners provide a perfect opportunity. The Cyclones were three points shy of pulling off the road win Jan. 8, and with a favorable home environment, Iowa State is ready for its revenge. 

“This is a big game for us, but we always take it one game at a time. So you gotta be ready to go Saturday and try to get the win at home,” Donarski said.