Cowboy defense frustrates Cyclones in first Hilton loss


Tyler Coe

Robert Jones shoots a layup against Oklahoma State on Feb. 11, 2023.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball struggled to scrap together much on offense, losing to Oklahoma State 64-56 on Saturday.

Entering Saturday, there had only been one game in Hilton Coliseum that did not end in a double-digit Cyclone win (Jan. 24 against Kansas State).

Oklahoma State had no problems changing that, picking up their third consecutive win in the building.

“There’s no secrets to success in general, certainly no secrets to winning in here,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton said.

The Cowboys had Iowa State’s number this season, taking the wins both at home and on the road. Oklahoma State thrived defensively, holding Iowa State below 60 points on both occasions.

Boynton discussed his pleasure for how well his team followed everything practiced ahead of time.

“Credit to these kids for just sticking with the defensive gameplan,” Mike Boynton said. “Which was obviously to not allow Kalscheur and Grill to get a bunch of easy looks from three, and then we did the job in the second half rebounding.”

Between Moussa Cisse and Kalib Boone, Oklahoma State has a lot of post-player talent. The strength for the Cyclones all season long has been not only winning the points in the paint battle, but dominating it.

While the Cyclones won 24-16 in the paint, the struggles were still apparent. Osun Osunniyi and Robert Jones were not having success with their post moves, and the guards were not able to score on the drive.

Trailing 19-17 with 8:09 to to go in the half, the Cyclones were having their fair share of struggles on both ends of the court. A media timeout allowed Otzelberger and the Cyclones to start applying pressure as soon as the Cowboys crossed midcourt, and they had success doing so.

Iowa State went on to force four turnovers in under three minutes following the timeout, picking up a handful of easy baskets on the fastbreak. Iowa State built up a 32-26 halftime lead, and Oklahoma State would flip the script in the second half.

The Cowboys were flying around defensively, leading to a second half turnaround for the squad. Ozelberger said what makes the Oklahoma State defense so difficult to play against is how it gets better as the opponent’s frustration grows.

“They take a lot of pride in the way that they defend,”

Osun Ossuniyi disagrees with a call against Oklahoma State on Feb. 11, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

Otzelberger said. “Their defense gets better as we get tighter.”

Aljaž Kunc returned to the Cyclone lineup back on Feb. 4, but had not looked quite like himself. Shots were not falling for Kunc, which would all change on Saturday.

Kunc posted 13 points on 4-7 shooting, giving Otzelberger hope for the offense moving forward.

“Certainly things that he’s still coming along with, but he looked a lot more in the form that he was early in the season today,” Otzelberger said. “That’s probably one of the few positives we had, is to see him kind of get back in that routine.”