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Iowa State Daily

Mid-season player update: Hot vs. Cold

Sam Petri
Keshon Gilbert prepares to make plays for Iowa State on offense on Jan. 24, 2024 in Hilton Coliseum.


Keshon Gilbert

Although Gilbert was quiet against Texas, he has been hot since the first couple weeks of Big 12 play. Even against Texas, Gilbert still hauled in seven boards and had some key assists to keep Iowa State on top.

In the five games before Texas, Gilbert was averaging 18 points per game and had two 20-point games. Gilbert led a charge against Baylor, knocking down five 3-pointers, although the Cyclones came up just short.

Gilbert has been a big time playmaker at times and has been a big reason for Iowa State’s success in conference play. Gilbert even took over Tamin Lipsey’s top spot in points per game and has been a leader on the floor as Lipsey is getting back up to 100% from his injury.

The biggest area in which Gilbert has seen massive improvement is his 3-point shooting. With Big 12 teams sporting a lot of size down low, he cannot drive to the rim and finish as easily as he did in non-conference play.

Although Gilbert missed all three of his 3-point shots against Texas, Gilbert did have a four-game stretch where he was shooting 50% from deep. That is much better than the start of Big 12 play where he missed his first eight 3-pointers.

If Gilbert continues to be a playmaker, he could take over any game going forward.

Curtis Jones

In the last five games, Curtis Jones has averaged over 14 points per game. In the first four games of Big 12 play, he scored 12 points total.

It is safe to say that Curtis Jones has been hot and has found his stride after a rocky start to conference play.

Curtis Jones is hitting meaningful shots game after game and continuing to prove his ability as a sharpshooter. Pair that with his lockdown defense, and he is earning every minute he gets on the court.

It really seemed that Curtis Jones could fill in for Lipsey if need be. Curtis Jones even looked like Lipsey in the TCU game as he snatched seven steals. In the four games before Texas, Curtis Jones had 11 total steals.

Overall, Curtis Jones has been lights out and stayed solid on defense, which will be impactful as Big 12 play rolls on.


Hason Ward

Ward started Big 12 play on fire but has cooled down since then.

Although Ward is still impactful on the floor, he has not been as dominant in the offensive paint. He was averaging over double-figures at the start of Big 12 play, but has not scored over 10 once in the last six games.

Not only that, Ward has taken a backseat when it comes to grabbing boards. Although he is still getting a handful, averaging under four a game is much less than his six to seven he had per game earlier.

Ward has been making up for a downtick in offensive output with his efforts on defense. Ward has upped his blocks and steals per game since the start of Big 12 play. Ward had just one block in the first six games of Big 12 play, but has eight blocks in the last three games.

The main issue has been Ward’s inconsistency. When he is scoring, he is not in lockdown on defense and vice versa.

Along with inconsistency, Ward has found some trouble with the refs, as he has been in foul trouble in nearly every game in Big 12 play. Ward picked up four or more fouls in three of the last six games and was ejected in one of the other three.

If Ward can stay out of foul trouble and be solid on both ends of the court, he is a beast, however, Ward has not been seen since the start of conference play.

Robert Jones

Robert Jones looked like a new man through all of the non-conference season. He was better in nearly every aspect and was earning his spot in the starting lineup.

However, as conference play rolls on, Robert Jones has struggled a little more than expected. He started Big 12 play with a 12-point, seven-rebound game, but has not been that electric since.

Robert Jones has been impactful at times but has not strung together a full 40 minutes in a while. He had some meaningful minutes against Texas and Kansas early into the game and even grabbed seven rebounds against Baylor. However, he has not been great in the second half of games.

With how Iowa State tends to struggle in second halves, Robert Jones’ help would be much-needed. He has also found himself in foul trouble at times as well.

Robert Jones has not been playing badly by any means and is still much-improved since last season, but given his spot in the starting lineup, it feels as though he should be doing more at times.

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