Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones lose Big 12/SEC challenge in Grill’s absence


Owen Aanestad

Jaren Holmes brings the ball up the floor against K-State on Jan. 24, 2023.

Iowa State men’s basketball took a break from Big 12 play Saturday afternoon to participate in the Big 12/SEC challenge where each Big 12 team was paired up with a team from the SEC.

The No. 12 Cyclones (15-4) were paired with the Missouri (Mizzou) Tigers (15-5) and traveled to Columbia, Missouri for the battle.

It was a fast-paced game from the beginning, making it tough for Iowa State to grab leads and stay consistent, resulting in a large deficit loss.

Here are the three big takeaways from the Cyclones’ 78-61 loss.

No Caleb Grill

Iowa State guard Caleb Grill has been battling a back injury throughout the past few games of the season. Grill originally hurt his back against the Cyclones’ 78-67 win over Texas but the pain resurfaced in their 61-59 loss to Oklahoma State.

It was unsure whether or not Grill would play in the team’s game against Kansas State on Jan. 24, but Grill appeared on the court despite having to massage and stretch his back from time to time throughout the game.

However, Grill was ruled out against Mizzou, meaning players would need to step up more than usual in order to come out with a win.

Tre King took Grill’s spot in the starting lineup and started his first game of the season. King put up nine points along with two offensive rebounds.

However, the Cyclones struggled to get points on the board right out of the gate, and it took about midway through the first half for them to get things going more consistently.

At halftime, the Tigers had their largest lead of the game as the Cyclones trailed 42-32.

Turnovers, runs and droughts

From the moment the ball tipped, turnovers seemed to become an issue for both teams.

Nonetheless, Jaren Holmes scored first for the Cyclones followed by a Missouri three-pointer. The Tigers then went on a 8-0 run with King ending that run.

It seemed that the Missouri defense made it difficult for Iowa State to even reach the basket let alone get points on the board. With just six minutes into the game, both the Cyclones and Tigers had four turnovers.

At halftime, Iowa State had 11 turnovers compared to Missouri’s six. The Cyclones finished with 19 turnovers and the Tigers with 12.

The Tigers were also able to grab 20 points from turnovers with the Cyclones grabbing just nine.

Aside from turnovers, it was both a game of runs and a game of droughts. It was a back-and-forth battle between the teams.

Gabe Kalscheur helped end a drought with two back-to-back threes which helped put the Cyclones on a 9-0 run.

As the first half minutes began to wind down, the Cyclones went on another drought when they struggled to score zero of five baskets. With six minutes remaining in the first half, the Cyclones trailed 28-22.

Missouri then went on a nearly four-minute drought themselves, but the Cyclones were not able to succeed from that drought as they only made one of seven attempts at the basket.

However, the Tigers came out of halftime confident as they went five for five in baskets and continued their lead by eight points before Iowa State scored their first basket of the half.

It then became an 18-pointer game with just four minutes into the second half. While Iowa State was able to grab baskets here and there, they were not able to get caught up and continued to trail by double digits.

With about two minutes remaining, Eli King and Conrad Halwey hit the court and were able to grab a couple of minutes. Hawley was able to get one point on the board at the free-throw line.

Holmes helps out

While the Cyclones did not come with a win, Holmes has been a leading scorer for Iowa State and was one of the players that stepped up in Grill’s absence.

Holmes was the only Cyclone in double digits at halftime with 12 points. King was the next-highest scorer at seven points. However, Kalscheur stepped up in the second half to finish with 14 points and Holmes with 19.

Additionally, the group’s main competition was the Tigers’ Kobe Brown who had 20 points.

While points were difficult to get on the board at times, rebounds were what kept Iowa State in the game. At halftime, the Cyclones had 21 rebounds contrasting the Tigers’ ten.

Eleven of those rebounds were done offensively whereas Missouri only had two. By the end of the game, Iowa State had 38 rebounds with 16 of them being offensive.

The Cyclones will continue their road games and look for a comeback win as they will travel to Lubbock, Texas, to take on Texas Tech on Monday night.