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Iowa State focuses on erasing the past against Oklahoma State

Tyler Coe
Robert Jones scores two points over a Houston defender at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 9, 2023.

After a monumental win over No. 2 Houston, the Cyclones are looking to put the hot night in the rear view as they brave the snowy road ahead and play host to a team that has iced them in the past.

Iowa State takes on Oklahoma State at home in what may prove to be a tough test for the young team. Although the Cyclones are coming off a big win over the top team in the Big 12, the Cowboys have found success at Hilton Coliseum throughout the T.J. Otzelberger era.

It would be easy to ride the high from upsetting a top-2 team in the nation, but Otzelberger made it clear to his team that the road ahead does not get easier. Anything can happen in the Big 12, so there is no time to take nights off.

“From my side of it, our opponent that’s coming in here has beat us twice at Hilton,” Otzelberger said. “For me, they’ve got our attention.”

Iowa State proved Tuesday how competitive the conference is, so Saturday will not be a cake walk. Iowa State has played exceptionally well at home in Otzelberger’s time at the helm, as was clear in the win over Houston, but even with the success, the Cowboys have found ways to come out on top.

In both of the Cyclones’ matchups at Hilton against Oklahoma State since Otzelberger took over, the Cowboys have come away with the win. Not only that, they came away with convincing wins.

After a historic night taking down a giant, the Cyclones are now faced with another tall task as they are being asked to make history again.

“There’s that little extra motivation of, ’Okay, we have to do something again that we’ve never done before,” Robert Jones said.

Oklahoma State boasts a defensively strong team with a lot of size across the board. The size and physicality has helped the Cowboys be competitive in the past and caused problems for the Cyclones.

Although Oklahoma State started Big 12 play with back-to-back losses, it has only given up over 80 points in a single game this season. That was in the most recent road trip to Texas Tech, where the Cowboys lost 90-73.

Despite the rough start to conference play, the Cyclones cannot overlook the defense that Oklahoma State brings.

“They’re a team overall, they’ve hung their hat on defense,” Otzelberger said. “That’s what their identity’s been.”

That defense came out to play in Otzelberger’s first home matchup with the Cowboys. The Cyclones lost on senior night in historic fashion, as they scored the least points at Hilton Coliseum in school history with 36.

Now, the Cyclones have to erase the past meetings from their mind and bring the same fire that took down Houston. For Jones and the rest of the team, the key to turning things around is simple.

“Just going in and making the most of it,” Jones said. “Forgetting what’s happened in the past. Today’s a new day.”

That mantra of taking it one step at a time has bled into the team as a whole. Since day one, every member has bought into the idea that they have to take it one game at a time.

Riding the high from a memorable win may end up distracting the Cyclones from the next task at hand. They defended their home turf against a big dog in the Big 12, but the issue with the conference is that nearly every team is a big dog.

“Taking every game one-by-one,” Demarion Watson said. “Not taking any team for granted. The Big 12’s an amazing league.”

The Big 12 can be a rollercoaster at times, and the key to success is dealing with the highs and the lows. The Cyclones are coming off a high and now need to keep it from becoming a low.

Otzelberger knows what is at stake and has the team focused on the task at hand.

“How you handle success, how you handle adversity in the Big 12 conference is really important,” Otzelberger said. “Because we’re all gonna have some of both.”

The Cyclones will look to keep the good times rolling as they take on Oklahoma State Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. The game was scheduled to start at 5 p.m., but travel and weather concerns could cause a delay. The game will be aired live on ESPN+.

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