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‘It just must be my day’: The Curtis Jones breakout game

Curtis+Jones+attempts+a+3-pointer+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Prairie+View+A%26M+mens+basketball+Game%2C+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Dec.+10%2C+2023.
Josue Aleman
Curtis Jones attempts a 3-pointer during the Iowa State vs. Prairie View A&M men’s basketball Game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 10, 2023.

AMES — A tight game early on quickly turned into an offensive showcase for the Cyclones, including a breakout performance from a struggling shooter, in Iowa State’s 107-56 win over Prairie View A&M.

Through the first five minutes of the game, it was not a traditional non-conference game at home for head coach T.J. Otzelberger and his crew.

The Cyclones did not get out to a sizeable lead for the first 10 minutes of the game, largely in part due to sloppy offensive possessions. They traded turnovers and missed shots with the Panthers and at one point were down by four through the first four minutes.

Then, almost like a switch that was suddenly flipped, Iowa State turned things up on offense in every facet and took control of the game in the latter half of the opening period. The Cyclones cleaned up their passes and spacing on the floor and ended up jumping out to a 52-35 lead at halftime.

“They were a scrappy team and a fast team and they pushed the ball really quick,” Tamin Lipsey said. “We had to really focus on getting the back-end rebounds but we were also able to find transition later in the game.”

Although the starting five found their fair share of sneaky drives into the paint and open looks from outside, the sharpshooting of Curtis Jones off the bench drove the Cyclones’ offensive surge.

Jones connected on his first shot from deep a little over three minutes into the game and proceeded to go perfect for the rest of the half on his next three attempts from outside.

“It felt great getting into a rhythm,” Jones said. “Tamin [Lipsey] got me a bucket on a skip pass, an easy three, that felt really good and that got me going the rest of the game.”

The senior guard carried his successful start into the second half, and with a little luck from the back of the rim on his fifth 3-pointer of the game, Jones’ confidence was at a season-high.

“I was talking to Keshon [Gilbert] and I said ‘It just must be my day’ after that one went in,” Jones said. “I didn’t really think it was going to go in once it hit the top, but somehow some way it did.”

While Jones has shown spots in games this season of being the sniper from deep for the Cyclones, he has not shown consistency throughout games until Sunday. The Buffalo transfer entered the game shooting 23.9% from 3-point land on the year. Whether it was a contested shot or one in transition he had not found his stroke nine games into the season.

Otzelberger and his teammates knew a turnaround performance like this was in the works for the veteran marksman.

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

Jones finished the game with six of his eight shots from deep finding their way into the net to lead the Cyclones with 22 points. Not only does his breakout performance serve as a confidence booster for him, but shows his potential as a threat for Iowa State off the bench.

“We have no doubt he can do that every day,” Lipsey said. “It’s gonna happen multiple games this year, you’re going to see it often. We know he can shoot the ball and I am going to keep looking for him.”

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