Harrington: Diagnosing the Cyclones’ road struggles


Tyler Coe

Tamin Lipsey scores a layup against Texas on Jan. 17, 2023.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

With a 12-0 record in Hilton Coliseum, the Cyclones have ridden the “Hilton Magic” to three top-10 wins on their home floor.

When playing in Hilton, the Cyclones have looked like the team to beat in the Big 12, but when they hit the road, it has been a different story. Iowa State is currently 2-5 in road games this season and has lost four in a row. These losses have come against No. 2 Kansas and unranked Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas Tech.

After a pair of huge leads blown in the Oklahoma State and Texas Tech games, it is apparent the Cyclones have some issues on the road.

Teams have ramped up the ball pressure on the Cyclones, and when the crowd got back into the games, it was complete control for the opponents.

Tamin Lipsey, a freshman point guard that has looked like the most experienced player on the court at times, showed his first signs of weakness over the road stretch.

Fellow guard Jaren Holmes took part of the blame for the struggles against Texas Tech, saying he needed to be more assertive to take some of the burdens off Lipsey.

Holmes has nothing but faith in Lipsey’s play, mentioning that he has already seen things from Lipsey that make him look like a veteran.

“He is a freshman, yes, but this second half of the season right now, he’s a sophomore, junior in the eyes of college basketball,” Holmes said.

Otzelberger has some ideas for what can go differently for the Cyclones so they do not fall apart in these games, but at the end of the day, you cannot replicate a major conference road environment in practice.

Iowa State needs to find a way to remain calm, cool and collected in these tough moments, or else the postseason games in March are going to be a struggle. While the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments are both at a neutral site, there will be massive crowds from opposing fanbases, and the mental pressures will be at an all-time high.

Despite his struggles on the road against Texas Tech, one player to bet on to rise to the challenge is Lipsey. The rest of the Cyclones are extremely confident in of Lipsey’s ability, and I’m sure Lipsey has talked with the rest of the staff about what he could improve.

Growing up in Ames, the success of Iowa State has always come first for him, which he can prove in the coming months. If anyone is prepared for this calm, cool and collected mindset, it is Lipsey.

“The same expression that he has on his face right now is the same expression you see throughout the game,” Holmes said. “Stone cold.”

With the Cyclones heading to Morgantown, West Virginia, on Wednesday, fans will get a chance to see if the improvement areas Otzelberger discussed will be cleaned up.