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‘Fortunate to coach a guy like him’: Hometown hero tames Lions

Tyler Coe
Tamin Lipsey scores a bucket while getting fouled against Lindenwood at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 9, 2023.

AMES — From the first possession of the game, it was clear that the matchup against Lindenwood was going to be a special night for the Ames native.

Iowa State opened up their second game of the season with authority on an alley-oop dunk from point guard Tamin Lipsey to forward Hason Ward on the first possession of the game.

Although the play took some time to set up, Iowa State’s star point guard had faith in Ward to make a play on the lob, which kept the Lions on their toes throughout the night.

“The set was drawn up—it’s one of our sets—but the lob is sometimes there and sometimes not. Obviously it was there tonight, so i threw it up and [Ward] is gonna make a play every time,” Lipsey said.

That assist from Lipsey had the crowd roaring early on and was the first of many impactful plays that he would make to propel the Cyclones to their second win to start the season.

That would be the first two of 52 points scored in the paint by the Cyclones in their 102-47 win against the Lions, which was something the team wanted to focus on heading into the game.

“It’s always been an emphasis,” forward Tre King said. “I think one thing we’ve done very well as a program is try everything, and one thing we’ve done in the summer and in the offseason is that we’re a very good team when we play in the paint, score in the paint or get touches in the paint. I think that’s one thing [Otzelberger] really emphasized this game.”

Iowa State was up 12-0 four minutes into the game and connected on two of its first three attempts from 3-point land, one from Lipsey and the other from Milan Momcilovic.

Before the start of the season, head coach T.J. Otzelberger talked about the work that Lipsey put in during the offseason, which he told the media after the game all started the day after last season’s NCAA tournament loss to Pittsburgh.

In the first two games of the season, Lipsey has shown growth as a shooter and has sharpened his skills as a passer, showing his hard work in the offseason has already paid off.

“That time I spent in the offseason was a lot of work, and it wasn’t easy,” Lipsey said. “The days were hard, but it was all worth it because that’s how you improve and get better.”

Lipsey ended the first half on a tear and slipped his way past Lindenwood defenders with ease. He started by converting on an and-one jumper and followed that up with a pair of back-to-back driving layups, which reignited the Cyclones on offense. He ended the first half with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, five assists and a pair of rebounds in 15 minutes.

Tamin Lipsey brings the ball up the court against Lindenwood at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 9, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

The Cyclones ended the first half on a 13-0 run to give them a 46-23 lead over the Lions, and their tenacity in the final minutes of the first half carried over into the beginning of the second half when they started 5-for-7 from the field to extend the lead to 30.

“We got off to a great start,” Otzelberger said. “That’s something we gotta continue to do is be focused and locked in on both sides to start. [At] the start of the second half, I thought our guys had great energy again there.”

The Cyclones turned the pressure on defensively in the second half and forced multiple pass breakups between the Lions, which they turned into scores. Iowa State forced 13 turnovers in the second half, 12 of which were steals, and finished the game with 22 forced turnovers and 19 steals.

A pair of guards for the Cyclones, Keshon Gilbert and Curtis Jones, complemented Lipsey’s play throughout the night and contributed to Iowa State’s dominance on both sides of the floor.

Jones and Gilbert combined for 21 points and seven steals, five of which came from the quickness of Jones, who flew around the court and disrupted passes all night long.

“We’re fortunate to have multiple playmaking guards, some guys that can shoot it and guys that we can attack a miss match and in the post,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve gotta continue to be intentional [in the paint], and then when teams double and bring a second defender, that’s when we shoot the three the best. So we’ll continue to look to do that.”

Lipsey backed up Otzelberger’s comments on the depth at the guard position and praised the efforts of Gilbert and Jones to make plays on both sides of the court.

“I enjoy it a lot to see those guys shine,” Lipsey said. “Obviously some players are known as shooters, as ball handlers or whatever, but we really do it all and we saw that tonight with Curt [Jones]. I think he had four steals in like a minute. Just how aggressive we are on defense and on offense is truly special about these guards we have.”

Otzelberger elected to relieve Lipsey from his duties for the rest of the game and ended his night with over seven minutes left in the second half with the Cyclones up by 54 points.

Lipsey ended the game with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field, seven assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes. He also drew six fouls from the Lions and went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe.

Otzelberger sounded off Lipsey’s night by shining a light on his role on the team and his equally-as-note-worthy character off the court.

“He leads by example,” Otzelberger said. “You watch how he walks, how he talks, how he treats people, how he conducts himself in the classroom. He leads, and everything he does is about leadership—and it’s winning.”

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