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The Joneses showcase: Respective offensive talents help corral Panthers

Jacob Rice
Curtis Jones reacts to a three point shot during the Iowa State vs. Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 21, 2023.

AMES — While not exactly a family affair, Robert and Curtis Jones got each of their games in motion early on to help lead the Cyclones to their 80-48 victory over Eastern Illinois.

In what started out as a close game through the start of the first half, the Cyclones’ old tricks of pressuring inside were not working against the Panthers.

Although the passing remained fluid for Iowa State, the lanes kept getting clogged up which forced them to start creating shots outside. Luckily for them, Curtis Jones had the hot hand again.

The Buffalo transfer saw four of his first five shots from beyond the arc find their way into the net, which propelled the Cyclones to jump out to their 13-point lead at halftime.

At the end of the first half, Curtis Jones led the Cyclones’ scoring efforts with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. For him, just seeing the ball go threw the hoop is all the confidence he needs to keep shooting.

“It’s just been a confidence thing,” Curtis Jones said. “Working every day after practice with the coaches and the managers, getting up a lot of shots and just seeing them go in practice has allowed to let them go in during the games.”

His only contribution to the scoring department in the second half came late on another made three, his fifth of the game.

The veteran guard hunted all night for his shots, moving through defenders around the perimeter to make it easy for his teammates to get him the ball. All of his five threes came off of slick passes from his teammates, and he finished the job with his smooth catch-and-shoot gameplay.

“It makes it super easy knowing we got knockdown shooters,” Tamin Lipsey said. “[Curtis Jones] does a great job moving off the ball and that allows him to get open threes that he knocks down.”

After struggling through the first handful of games to start the season, Curtis Jones has found the stroke that brought him to Iowa State. In his last three games, he has connected on 12 of his 19 attempts from outside and has scored double-digits in two of those affairs.

“It is tough mentally just going through a slump like that,” Curtis Jones said. “Only thing you can do is keep going so I just kept going.”

While Curtis Jones took care of scoring from outside, Robert Jones put in his usual efforts in the paint and was one of the only Cyclones who consistently found success inside.

Iowa State ran a three-guard lineup for the majority of the game, and with Tre King playing through a sore back, Robert Jones would need to make up for some lost minutes.

Robert Jones makes a dunk during the second half of the Iowa State vs. Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 21, 2023. (Jacob Rice)

During his 30 hard minutes of play against the Panthers, Robert Jones scrambled on defense and found himself on the receiving end of dishes to the inside which he finished at an efficient rate.

“I love it when guys run the floor especially big men,” Lipsey said. “I always dribble with my eyes up and am always looking for guys. Rob [Jones] and I think that is one of the factors of why he runs so hard cause he knows I’m looking for him.”

The senior forward finished the game with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, snagged six boards and swatted a pair of shots.

He now has five games where he has scored in double-figures and continues to excite Otzelberger with his continued progression this season.

“Not only is [Robert Jones] protecting the rim at our backline defense but he is pressuring the ball inside and on the perimeter,” Otzelberger said. “Just so impressed with how he keeps finding more. More effort, more energy, it is impressive.”

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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