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Staff Picks: Oklahoma State, UCF

Arianna+Jackson+does+her+pregame+handshake+with+Shantavia+Dawkins+before+the+game+against+Kansas+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Jan.+3%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Arianna Jackson does her pregame handshake with Shantavia Dawkins before the game against Kansas at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 3, 2023.

Pavle Markovic, Sports Reporter

Iowa State 79, Oklahoma State 68

The Cyclones have been on a disastrous three-game skid that could have no end in sight if they do not take advantage of their next couple of games. They will look to end this skid as they’ll have a home game against Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.

It has been a couple of weeks since the Cyclones have hosted a game at Hilton Coliseum, going back to when Iowa State upset then-No. 4 Baylor in stunning fashion back on Jan. 13. This situation wasn’t supposed to be the case, as the Cyclones were forced to accept a forfeit from TCU that would’ve given them a break from the road.

Luckily they get to play a Cowgirl team at home that is also sharing the same amount of luck as the Cyclones, as they are also on a three-game losing streak. Unlike Iowa State, Oklahoma State got to host two of those three games; plus they didn’t have an unexpected occurrence like the Cyclones had.

Regardless, both teams are desperately looking to get back into the winning column and potentially start a new winning streak. This game means more for the Cowgirls who opened up their season at home against Iowa State and fell in their previous matchup.

I believe that the Cyclones will be the team that is hungrier to finally get out of the losing column, so I expect Iowa State to come out with a vengeance Wednesday that will lead to a win against Oklahoma State in front of a great Hilton crowd.

Iowa State 74, UCF 67

Following what should be a potential bounce-back game for the Cyclones, Iowa State travels to Orlando, Florida, to take on UCF. This will be the first matchup these two programs have ever had with each other, so Iowa State will be looking to get on top of the Knights early.

The main problem that the Cyclones will face with the Knights is guard Kaitlin Peterson. Peterson leads the Big 12 in scoring with 21.5 points per game and has single-handedly kept UCF competitive in its respective games.

Iowa State does have prior experience with trying to maintain players who are high-flying scorers, so keeping Peterson locked down will be key to the Cyclones finding success against the Knights. Guard Arianna Jackson will be a name to watch for one of the main defenders against Peterson, as she’s become one of the best guard defenders in the conference.

With it being in Florida and in new territory, I do expect this game to be closer than expected, despite UCF’s current 1-7 conference record. But by the end of the game, I do have Iowa State pulling out yet another big win, which should start the process of building another winning streak.

Brett Twelmeyer, Sports Reporter

Iowa State 77, Oklahoma State 71

Iowa State and Oklahoma State are in a rut right now. Both teams have lost the past three games, all of which being on the road for Iowa State, so this one now becomes more important in terms of digging out of what is becoming a deep hole.

The Cyclones have not played a home game in over two weeks due to the TCU forfeit, so I expect them to be chomping at the bit to play in front of the home crowd at Hilton. Anger levels are likely rising within the Iowa State bunch, and that needs to be channeled toward beating Oklahoma State.

Iowa State had the opportunity to complete sweeps against Kansas and No. 24 West Virginia, which slipped through its fingers. Now with a chance to complete a sweep at home, I think this losing streak will see an end.

Two of Oklahoma State’s losses in its past three games have been to ranked teams in Texas and Baylor. Iowa State lost to a ranked West Virginia squad Wednesday in a tight contest.

The biggest key to the game for the Cyclones will be limiting turnovers. Iowa State has the worst turnover margin in the Big 12 at -5.95 and committed 24 last game at West Virginia.

Manage the turnovers, grab rebounds, and the Cyclones will be fine.

Iowa State 80, UCF 69

Let’s be real: UCF has struggled in its first season in the Big 12. The Knights started 0-7 in conference play before beating Houston, who was also a group-of-five school last season, in overtime in its last game.

UCF plays now ranked No. 23 West Virginia Wednesday in Morgantown, West Virginia, the same place that Iowa State just lost on Saturday.

This is a team that averages just 67 points per game, mostly due to the lackluster shooting. When the Knights do shoot, their percentages are close to the Cyclones, but they don’t attempt nearly as many shots as Iowa State.

The Cyclones have attempted and made nearly twice as many threes as the Knights, 163 for Iowa State and 83 for UCF. If the threes fall for Iowa State, UCF will be in trouble.

Freshman Audi Crooks should have another big performance. The UCF centers have not been nearly as good as Crooks, each recording multiple scoreless games and not rebounding as effectively as the Algona, Iowa, native.

Road games have been the Achilles heel for Iowa State recently. Considering the opponent, this game should be one Iowa State can win.

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