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Three Big Takeaways: Hot shooting from the Cyclones dethrones No. 7 Kansas

Joseph Dicklin
Tamin Lipsey celebrates a jump shot three during the Iowa State vs. Kansas match on Jan. 27, 2024 in Hilton Coliseum.

AMES — Iowa State’s hot shooting from the field and its countless runs in each half stunned Kansas, with the Cyclones’ late efforts enough to pull out a 79-75 win, their fifth in Big 12 play.

After opening up the game with the initial lead, Iowa State and Kansas traded blows back and forth throughout the affair.

But it was Iowa State’s season-high performance from 3-point land that constantly propelled them over the Jayhawks, with an unlikely hero leading the way from outside.

Cyclones lead after run-for-run first half

Both teams came out aggressive attempting to control the paint and force tough shots from outside. Following a turnover from each tide on their opening possessions, the Cyclones opened up the game with a 5-0 lead, until Kansas answered back with a 6-2 run of its own to stop Iowa State’s early momentum.

This became a running variable in this matchup, with both sides unable to truly run away.

Due to their four turnovers in the first nine minutes, the Cyclones failed to take advantage of Kansas’ poor shooting. Despite holding the Jayhawks to tough, contested shots from outside, Iowa State’s failure to create shots resulted in a near four-minute scoring drought.

Following a timeout with 11 minutes to go in the opening half, a hot-potato pass to Tre King who connected on his second three of the game ended the Cyclones’ struggles from the floor.

Keshon Gilbert’s three from the top of the key gave the Cyclones their lead back, which they did not hold on to for long. Kansas answered back with a 6-0 run of its own, which was possible due to another shooting slump from the Cyclones and their failure to outmuscle the Jayhawks off the glass.

“You prepare yourself mentally to know they are going to adjust,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Even though there were some times where we bent for a little bit, when it was needed we got the stops and we got timely baskets and we made big shots.”

During Kansas’ run to regain the lead, Iowa State got a little overconfident with its 3-point shooting as they chucked up a trio of threes, none of which found their way into the basket.

After what had been a back-and-forth, shot-for-shot first half, the Cyclones were the ones that connected on their final punch, with some help from the overly frustrated Jayhawks.

A swat to the face on a driving Tamin Lipsey in transition resulted in a flagrant foul on Parker Braun, and Kansas head coach Bill Self got a little too chippy with a referee and was assessed with a technical foul.

Lipsey then had four free throws to shoot, two of which he connected on, and with the help of a Milan Momcilovic three, Iowa State ended the first half on a 6-2 run in the final 2:30 minutes, which headlined its 30-26 lead.

Kansas makes late second half push, Gilbert delivers

The momentum that the Cyclones ended the first half with trickled into the start of the second half.

Iowa State connected on its first two threes in the second half, followed by a breakaway steal and score for Lipsey to extend its lead to six.

That was the beginning of a hot second half start by the Cyclones that cemented themselves in the driver’s seat. To the tune of an 18-10 run in the span of six minutes, Iowa State went a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point land.

Iowa State’s hot shooting efforts propelled them into a 12-point lead. While the Jayhawks chipped away at the Cyclones’ lead, and at one point were within four with 4:39 remaining, Iowa State continued to answer back midway through the second half.

Eerily similar to the first half, the final five minutes of the game regressed to a game of each team trading runs. In an area where Iowa State has struggled this season, Kansas got Hilton on its toes when it made it a two-point game with 100 seconds left.

Following a timeout by Otzlebeger, one man stepped up to seal the Jayhawks’ fate.

Seconds dripped off the clock as the Cyclones took their time to set up a shot to put the game away. Gilbert saw his shot at the top of the key, and he took it.

“In the first half we ran the same play and two came to me and I had to kick it to [Momcilovic],” Gilbert said. “They kind of guarded it a little different I really had nowhere to go. So I hit them with a little move and I just shot and I was lucky enough for it to go in.”

Nothing but net and Iowa State was now up by five with 41 seconds left.

“[Gilbert] didn’t force the game, he didn’t take it when it wasn’t there,” Otzelberger said. “He stayed ready and when the opportunity presented itself he was terrific.”

Gilbert completed his heroic efforts with a rebound on the other end, which left 23 seconds on the clock.

Once those seconds ran off, the Iowa State student section flooded the court and danced to ‘Sweet Caroline.’

‘Trey’ King and company

The consistency from 3-point land was the difference maker for the Cyclones, which has not been the case for most of the season. Iowa State connecting on 14 of its 30 shots from outside was a surprise in itself, but with four of them coming from Tre King, who had made three in heading into the game, was an astonishment.

King connected on two in the first half, and with the amount of space Kansas center Hunter Dickinson was giving him from outside, he was confident enough to keep shooting.

“One thing that coach [Otzelberger] and coach Crawford talked to me about was if they sag off, if it’s the right shot and the right time, take it and make it,” King said.

The veteran forward kept taking them, and made two of his three attempts from behind the arc in the second half.

Whether it was from the top of the key, the corner, the wing or inside, it did not matter. King fired up the Hilton crowd with every bucket and finished the night with a game-leading 21 points.

The other 10 triples for the Cyclones came from Momcilovic and Curtis Jones, who each had three, along with Lipsey and Gilbert, who each had two. The confidence for the Cyclones to shoot was contagious, even when one guy’s shots weren’t falling, someone else’s were.

“We just got great shooters and we share the ball at such a high level that we get great shots all the time,” Lipsey said.

Iowa State entered the game as one of the least consistent teams from 3-point land and with the way Kansas was guarding them, the Jayhawks were banking on another poor performance from deep by the Cyclones.

A 46.7% performance from outside and 45.9% shooting day from the field made Kansas hurt for underestimating an outlier showing by the Cyclones.

“I don’t think it is as much of a fluke shooting effort as much as it is a group of guys that are hungry to get a win, who play for one and another and knock down shots when the opportunity presents itself,” Otzelbeger said.

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