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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones drop Big 12 opener to No. 11 Oklahoma

Jacob Rice
Milan Momcilovic, Iowa State vs. Eastern Illinois University men’s basketball game, Hilton Coliseum, Dec. 21, 2023.

The Cyclones started their Big 12 season sluggishly by falling on the road against No. 11 Oklahoma 71-63.

The Cyclones battled through poor shooting early on before starting their uphill battle to get back in the game. Iowa State fought back late but could not find victory as foul trouble took over.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Iowa State’s first Big 12 game of the season:

Poor shooting causes slow start

Iowa State’s first basket did not come until three minutes into the game. The defense had trouble at times but slowed Oklahoma enough to keep things a little closer.

A 7-0 run for Oklahoma in a two-minute span had the Sooners on top 12-4 after the first seven minutes. Through the first 10 minutes, Iowa State trailed 15-8 and was shooting below 30% from the floor.

Freshman Milan Momcilovic then hit a three which started to slowly bring the offense to life. The Cyclones were finding some momentum and started to close the gap.

That momentum stalled late in the first half, however. Oklahoma found a little more down the stretch and kept the lead at the half, 32-26.

The late first half scoring for Oklahoma was from a few threes. The Sooners shot 5-for-16 from three in the first half while Iowa State was 1-for-8.

By the end of the first half, Iowa State got its shooting percentage up to 39% and kept Oklahoma near that at 41%. That growth would find its way into the second half.

Robert Jones, Hason Ward find groove inside

With the threes not falling, Iowa State had to find a way inside to score. A quick 6-0 run to start the second half tied things up at 32 before Oklahoma went on a 5-0 run to counter.

Then, following a missed free throw, Ward tracked down his own rebound and slammed it back home. That lit a fire in the Cyclones.

Another Iowa State run followed, ending with another dunk, this time by Jones. Jones would later give the Cyclones their first lead of the game with under five minutes to play on a hook-shot inside the paint coming at the end of a 7-0 run.

After trading scores following the tying score, a 7-0 Oklahoma run ensued in under two minutes to give Oklahoma a six-point lead with two minutes to play.

Iowa State gathered 38 points in the paint, led primarily by Jones and Ward. Jones and Ward each finished with 12 points to lead scoring along with Momcilovic.

Star players fall into foul trouble

Early in the second half, Tamin Lipsey picked up his third foul. Keshon Gilbert soon followed.

With the fouls racking up, Lipsey and Gilbert had to spend more time on the bench and could not help contribute as much as the game wound down.

Momcilovic had to step up with Lipsey and Gilbert in foul trouble, and he did. His 12 points were part of the three-way tie to lead scoring for the Cyclones.

Lipsey and Gilbert ended up fouling out late following a quiet night from two players who usually lead the way. Lipsey, who averages 15.5 points per game, was held to just four points, shooting 1-for-10 on an uncharacteristic night for the point guard.

In the end, Oklahoma grabbed another late run to pull away and seal the Cyclones’ fate. This marks the first true road loss and conference loss for Iowa State, along with another loss to a ranked opponent.

Ranked opponents have been the Achilles heel for Iowa State this season. With the loss against Oklahoma, Iowa State falls to 0-2 against top-25 teams.

In a conference full of juggernauts, many being ranked opponents, the Cyclones need to find that extra push to win games against top teams. The Cyclones will try to turn things around at home Tuesday when they host No. 3 Houston.

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Jacob Rice, Visual Editor
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