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The Monday After: BYU blowout, road curse ends?

Tamin+Lipsey+gets+fouled+by+a+Houston+defender+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Jan.+9%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Tamin Lipsey gets fouled by a Houston defender at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 9, 2023.

Iowa State is coming off an interesting week of Big 12 play, showing some low lows but also some high highs.

The bright side from the week of play is that the Cyclones entered a road gauntlet against a pair of strong ranked opponents and still left with a win. Not bad for a team that has not found much success away from Hilton so far this season.

Battle of the sharpshooters favors BYU

I’m not going to speak much on the BYU game. When it comes down to it, the Cougars shot better, and that mattered.

The Cyclones entered the game expecting BYU to take advantage of open looks and transition threes and that is exactly what the Cougars did. They took shots from deep time and time again, which led to Iowa State letting up 87 points, the most in the T.J. Otzelberger-era.

It is tough to win a game where the other team makes almost as many 3-pointers as you shoot. The Cougars made 13 while shooting nearly 40% from deep, while the Cyclones only made four of their 14 attempts.

Milan Momcilovic, a player that uncharacteristically struggled from the field, said it best Thursday when he said the team just needs to shoot more.

Along with the struggles from beyond the arc, the Cyclones again struggled from the charity stripe, as they connected on fewer free throws than BYU with more attempts.

It was an overall rough outing for the Cyclones, as Hason Ward got ejected, Iowa State’s leading scorer Keshon Gilbert missed his eighth-straight 3-pointer to start Big 12 play and Tamin Lipsey left the game with a shoulder injury which kept him out of the next contest.

I would not overreact too much to the loss, as BYU is a solid team, and it is tough to win on the road in the Big 12. However, the loss further showed glaring issues in the team’s ability to perform on the road, which needs to be fixed if they want to make it deep in the postseason.

Everyone steps up against TCU

Without Lipsey, the Cyclones knew they had to step up to fill his big shoes. Not only does he provide an offensive presence every night, he is a menace on defense.

Without Lipsey on the court, guys like Curtis Jones, Jackson Paveletzke and even Gilbert had to step up when it came to running the court. By far the player who got the most of his opportunity was Jones.

Jones started his first game as a Cyclone, and it was tough not to see a bit of Lipsey in the way he played. He moved the ball efficiently, he poked balls out with ease on defense and he was taking shots with confidence.

Jones was a large reason the Cyclones jumped out to a big lead early on, as his seven steals fueled TCU’s 27 turnover game. By the way, that was the most turnovers the Horned Frogs had in a game since the ‘90s.

Although Jones came alive in Lipsey’s absence, his 17 points was not the highlight of the day. Gilbert popped off again, putting up 20 points to bring his average points per game for the week up to 18.

Gilbert has started to catch his stride in Big 12 play, which should help the Cyclones tackle some tough tasks ahead, especially if Lipsey is out for an extended period of time.

TCU comeback sheds more worries about road success

While winning on the road in the Big 12 is tough, it will be a necessity at times if the Cyclones want to have a favorable postseason.

It is no secret that Hilton Magic does exist, but the Cyclones’ road curse is a lingering issue that does not necessarily go away after a one-point win over TCU. The win was sloppy, and if it were not for a record number of turnovers, the Cyclones could have easily gone home with another road loss.

Having to let out a sigh of relief after a grueling 40 minutes while entering the second half up 18 is not something that should be a good sign for the Cyclones. Not only were runs let up a handful of times in the second half, the entire half felt reminiscent of the Texas A&M loss that haunted the Cyclones early in the season.

Going ice cold both on offense and defense is something that cannot be a habit for the Cyclones unless they want to get booted in the first round come tournament time. We saw what happened against Pitt last season.

The Cyclones were hectic and sloppy at crunch time, which saw an 11-2 TCU run nearly turn into a massive comeback win for the Horned Frogs. If it was wide open threes being given up, it was fastbreak buckets or 26 shots at the charity stripe.

TCU was given too many chances to get back into the game. And although the one-point loss was not really as close as it seemed, as a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from TCU brought the game close, allowing the Horned Frogs to storm back from 19 points behind to just four should not be celebrated.

If TCU hit any of the handful of missed shots or bricked free throws in the final few minutes, the Cyclones would have given up a massive comeback. Although the Cyclones lucked out at the end, getting into a situation as sticky as that is concerning.

However, the road does not tend to favor Iowa State, and the Cyclones have a pair of key matchups coming up at Hilton which should shed more light on what the team can bring to the table.

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