‘It’s going to be a war again’: Cyclones prepared for rematch against Jayhawks


Owen Aanestad

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

Hailey Dohnal, Assistant Sports Editor

Coming off of two difficult road losses, the No. 13 Iowa State men’s basketball will have a chance to not only bounce back but grab a win over a team the Cyclones lost to earlier in the season, the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks. 

Fortunately for Iowa State, they will play Kansas at their home court this time around. The Cyclones came about as close as it gets to beating the then No. 2 Jayhawks on Jan. 14 when they lost 62-60 in Lawrence. 

“We see this as an opportunity to get back on the right track and going back to our daily habits,” Osun Osunniyi said. 

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger reflected on the team’s road losses and said that the road environment has played a part at times in how his team plays and specifically in how the team turns the ball over. 

“We’ve just got to have a stubborn toughness knowing that teams are going to ramp up the pressure and we can’t let it impact us,” Otzelberger said. 

Additionally, Otzelberger said the team’s focus and involvement need to be on the offense and working together to have one another’s back. 

“Everything we do is based on a team dynamic,” Otzelberger said. 

Otzelberger said the team is excited to be back at home and have an opportunity to stay defeated on their court. 

“We’ve been the aggressor in this building [Hilton] and we need to. That’s going to be so important on Saturday,” Otzelberger said. 

The team expects that the Hilton will come highly enthusiastic and Otzelberger expects that his players will feed off of that energy. 

“We owe it to them [Hilton fans] to perform at our highest,” Osunniyi said. 

As competitive as the Big 12 is, each team will experience adversity. Consequently, the importance of being able to respond and learn from mistakes is what’s going to help teams be successful.

With the exception of freshmen like Tamin Lipsey and Demarion Watson, the Cyclones have a veteran team that has overcome the mid-season struggles and knows what it takes to continue to move forward. 

“We just need to have a mental reset, get refocused, do what we do and we’re in a great position,” Otzelberger said.

Otzelberger also gave an update on Aljaž Kunc and Caleb Grill’s injuries. Otzelberger said Kunc was approved by his doctor to participate in non-contact activities. Therefore, Otzelberger is unsure whether Kunc will be available to play Saturday but will do whatever is best for Kunc. 

“We’re hopeful he will return here soon,” Otzelberger said. 

As for Grill, Otzelberger said Grill’s back has been “good” and has been back to playing up to his full potential. 

“It doesn’t appear to be anything holding him back,” Otzelberger said. 

While the team was disappointed and frustrated with their recent performances, they are focused on one game at a time and are looking ahead to what’s to come. 

“It’s going to be a war again,” Jaren Holmes said. 

Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum and can be watched on ESPN.