Kansas State’s Nowell and Johnson to be Cyclones main focus Saturday


Tyler Coe

Tre King goes up strong against TCU on Feb. 15, 2023.

T.J. Otzelberger and the No. 19 Iowa State men’s basketball team are back in the winning column after defeating No. 22 TCU, 70-59, at home on Wednesday.

Now, with three road games and two home games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Cyclones will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to take on No. 12 Kansas State.

Iowa State’s last match up against the Wildcats was on Jan. 24 when they played them at Hilton Coliseum and won 80-76.

When asked what thoughts are on his mind when looking at the Kansas State team, Otzelberger said Marquis Nowell and Keyonte Johnson will be two of their biggest competitors to play against and will be the team’s main focus.

“They [Kansas State] play with a tremendous amount of confidence early,” Otzelberger said. “They’ve also had some great games, and then they’ve had some challenges like we all have.”

Johnson is ranked second in the Big 12 scoring leaders averaging 17.5 points per game. Nowell leads the league in assists with 7.6 per game.

“He’s [Nowell] dynamic and making plays so gotta get back in transition and can’t give him anything easy,” Otzelberger said.

Otzelberger said the “strength and physicality” of Johnson will make for an important and aggressive Cyclone defense.

“We’ve got to have great awareness to those two guys,” Otzelberger said.

In their previous game against the Wildcats, Otzelberger said he felt that his offense played well with sharing the basketball and putting up 80 points.

“We’ve got to continue to ya know really move it, share it, get into the paint, play for each other,” Otzelberger said.

A question fans may be curious about is the status of Caleb Grill. Grill was replaced by Aljaz Kunc against TCU in order to do what was best for his back injury.

“More than anything, since his back has become a factor, we’ve tried on a daily basis to just do the things that we can to keep him in rhythm with the team and yet at the same point make sure we’re doing everything we can do for his health,” Otzelberger said.

Additionally, while it can be tough to take it all one day at a time, Otzelberger said when it comes to something like a back injury, it is important to stay mindful of how Grill is feeling and take it from there.

Iowa State will take on TCU Saturday at 1p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN.