Cyclones back in the win column after defeating TCU


Tyler Coe

Jaren Holmes runs off the court after forcing a second TCU timeout in the first half on Feb. 15, 2023.

AMES — In a late night thriller, Iowa State men’s basketball returned to their home court Wednesday night to take on No. 22 TCU.

Both the Cyclones and Horned Frogs have been in similar positions this year, dealing with multiple road losses, a few injuries and both coming off of losses at home.

However, Iowa State stood their ground at home and came out on top with a 70-59 win.

TCU has been dealing with injuries of two impactful players, Mike Miles Jr. and Eddie Lampkin Jr. While Miles did not make his return against the Cyclones, Lampkin played 22 minutes.

Additionally, something that set Iowa State back from beating Oklahoma State was their mental toughness. Prior to the game, head coach T.J. Otzelberger mentioned the importance of having that mental focus against TCU if they wanted to come out with a win.

“For them [TCU] to score two points, for us to start with three stops or whatever it was, speaks to our guys being focused, being intentional, dictating things defensively,” Otzelberger said.

The Cyclones have also recently struggled with fouls and making baskets at the free throw line. However, Iowa State maintained the fouls and only put TCU into the bonus with two minutes remaining in the first half.

Iowa State also shot 80% at the free throw line in the first half and shot 52% from field goal range. They finished the game shooting 88% at the free throw line and 49% from the field.

“Guys just put in work,” Osun Ossunnyi said about the team’s free throw success.

Jaren Holmes gets an easy lay up to send TCU home on Feb. 15, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

There was a slight change in the Iowa State starting lineup as Aljaž Kunc took Caleb Grill’s spot. Kunc came out hot, however, scoring a three-pointer to start off the night and get the Cyclones on the board first. Kunc then continued to have a night of his own.

Kunc had 22 points, a career high, led the team in rebounds (5) and played 31 of the 40 minutes. 15 of those points came from three-pointers, as he made five of eight.

“He stepped up in a major way,” Otzelberger said. “He’s just a winning player.”

It was clear that Iowa State was back in their groove as the score was 13-2 at the first media timeout with TCU making one basket and missing two free throws. A big part that led to that lead was Tamin Lipsey who had two steals within the first four minutes.

While free throws were in the favor of Iowa State, TCU struggled at the line making just six of 18.

Halfway through the first, TCU began to find their groove, going on a 12-0 run with a five minute Iowa State scoring drought. Kunc ended that drought for Iowa State after a three-pointer and an assist from Lipsey.

With five minutes remaining in the first half, the Cyclones went on a 13-2 run getting the Hilton crowd loud and on their feet.

At the half, Iowa State had a nine-point lead over the Horned Frogs, 35-24.

The second half started out with fouls for both teams but a 7-0 run for Iowa State. A flagrant foul was then called on TCU, giving Kunc three shots at the free throw line where he made all three.

Immediately after the free throws came to a Jaren Holmes three-pointer, giving the Cyclones a 21-point lead. TCU was able to cut that lead to seven but Iowa State ultimately continued with the lead until the end.

“It was a team effort from both ends of the floor,” Kunc said.

The Cyclones will have a few days off from gameplay and will take on Kansas State Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.