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Three Big Takeaways: Tamin Lipsey steals a record, Curtis Jones steals the show

Josue Aleman
Tamin Lipsey passes the ball backwards to Keshon Gilbert during the Iowa State vs. Prairie View A&M men’s basketball Game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 10, 2023.

AMES — After a rocky start, the Cyclones buckled down and broke some records along the way to a 107-56 win over Prairie View A&M.

The Cyclones ran away with the game in the second half thanks to a handful of players that got hot at the right moments. Curtis Jones could not seem to miss a shot from deep, while Tamin Lipsey stole a record from “The Mayor.”

It was not all smiles, as Prairie View A&M stuck with the Cyclones through the start of the game, before the physicality of the game caught up with the Panthers.

Brawling in the first

The game plan for the Panthers was clear from the start. They wanted to play aggressive basketball and attempt to assert their dominance over Iowa State.

From the jump, it looked like that game plan might work.

Prairie View A&M jumped out to an early lead and clung to it for nearly four minutes. Although the lead swapped back-and-forth six times in the opening minutes, it took a second for Iowa State to wake up against Prairie View A&M.

“There’s a lot more contact than a normal game,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “It was choppy. We didn’t do the best at the start adapting to that but was really pleased with the effort in the second half.”

What led into the slow start were the fouls on both sides. While the two teams hung close together, 11 fouls had been committed in total between the teams. Iowa State had five of those.

Along with the fouls, both teams were turning the ball over at a high rate. The game appeared to be moving too fast for both teams.

“They were a scrappy team, a fast team. They pushed the ball really quick,” Lipsey said.

Pushing the ball quick and being scrappy started to cause issues for the Panthers, as fouls and turnovers kept coming. After the sloppy start, the Cyclone started to get hot.

Iowa State clung to a lead near the halfway point in the first. The Cyclones were taking advantage of trips to the charity stripe but were also giving up open looks from deep to keep Prairie View A&M in the game.

With eight minutes left in the first half, the foul total rose to nearly 20. By the half, that number became 26.

By the second half, the Panthers were starting to fall into foul trouble. That worked in Iowa State’s favor, as everyone thrived at the line.

“For our team, we want to be that downhill attacking team,” Otzelberger said.

The Cyclones took advantage of the overflowing free throw attempts, as they went to line nearly 50 times. That was nearly as many free throws as Prairie View A&M had total points at the end of the game.

Along with that, the Cyclones’ defense turned into a turnover machine, fueled by one man, who did his best to disrupt the Panthers and help the Cyclones run away with the game.

Tamin Lipsey steals “The Mayor’s” record

Lipsey proved once again why he is one of the best point guards in the nation.

The sophomore point guard led the charge on defense to create opportunities all night long. With the Cyclones forcing 29 turnovers, Prairie View A&M had a tough time attempting to claw back into the game.

Lipsey constantly got steals on defense, which turned into points on the other end of the court. If he was not scoring himself, as he finished with 19 points, he was spreading the ball around and giving other players open looks, as he finished with five assists.

Early in the second half, Lipsey made history. Before him, only two other players in Iowa State history had games with seven steals: Justus Thigpen and Fred Hoiberg.

Along with that, no Cyclone had a seven-steal game in the last 30 years. Just Lipsey.

Tamin Lipsey jumps in an attempt to dunk during the Iowa State vs Prairie View A&M Men’s Basketball Game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 10, 2023. (Josue Aleman)

With the record in sight, all Lipsey had to do was continue doing what he did best. Being active on the defensive end of the court.

“Being in the right place at the right time and being active,” Lipsey said.

Halfway through the final half, Lipsey made history. He broke the record for steals as he recorded his eighth of the day.

“I think [Lipsey] is going to be very stubborn with all the records along those lines, and he’s gonna keep breaking them,” Otzelberger said.

Hoiberg was one of the two players that held the steal record entering the day. Otzelberger joked about how ironic it was that Lipsey was the one to steal the record from Hoiberg, as they both went to the same high school and the fact that Hoiberg is a personal friend of Otzelberger.

Just a couple games removed from his triple-double, where he made history again, Lipsey nearly had a double-double with just points and steals. However, the stats are not what Lipsey cares about. He has preached time and time again that wins is the only stat that matters.

“With [Lipsey], it’s never about the numbers, it’s always about the character, it’s always about the hard work,” Otzelberger said. “It may or may not be about shattering some of the records from that guy called ‘The Mayor,’ who went to his high school.”

Curtis Jones finds his shot and confidence

Jones has had rough stretches shooting the ball to start his Cyclone career.

Jones came from Buffalo as a sharpshooter, but could not find his rhythm to start the season. Although some shots would fall, he could not find his confidence consistently.

Sunday was different. When the Cyclones needed a spark to pull away early in the contest, Jones provided that spark.

Jones was perfect from deep, making both of his first two shots. Jones stayed hot as the game moved on.

With the Panthers knocking down 3-pointers with ease, Jones was going shot-for-shot with them. He was still perfect from the field at half, leading the team with 14 points.

Later, that total went up to 22.

“We have no doubt that he can do that every game,” Lipsey said.

It was clear that Jones was having a hot night when he made his fifth shot from beyond the arc. The ball hit the front of the rim, bounced up and off the top of the backboard and fell back through the net.

“I didn’t really think it was going in after it hit the top, but somehow, someway it did,” Jones said.

Immediately after that shot hit, there was a stop of possession. While the Cyclones were jogging to the huddle, Jones looked to Keshon Gilbert and said, “It just must be my day.”

Jones finished the game shooting 6-for-8 from deep. He also hit the only two free throws he attempted and ended the game as the leading scorer. His confidence that had lacked at times throughout the season was finally found.

“You could just see a poise and a confidence when he was letting that thing go tonight,” Otzelberger said. “He wasn’t thinking about it, he wasn’t aiming it, he was just being him.”

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