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Iowa State Daily

The Monday After: The Cyclones’ historic season continues

Matteo Bender
Tamin Lipsey setting a play during the Iowa State vs Texas Tech game, Hilton Coliseum, Feb. 17, 2024.

Another week of Big 12 play saw Iowa State come out unscathed. With time running out in the season, the Cyclones are proving night in and night out that they are a top team in the nation.

Another road win followed by a dominant performance at home met the Cyclones as they now battle for the top of the conference.

Find out what has led to Iowa State’s success and what the week of Big 12 action means for the road going forward.

Doing what they need to

Given Iowa State’s uncharacteristic consistency on the road, it came as no surprise when Iowa State toppled Cincinnati.

The Bearcats are a scrappy team that grinds out nearly every game they play. They tend to hang close with every team in the Big 12, especially at home. That was even true when they nearly upset Houston.

Despite that, the Cyclones ran away with the game sooner than expected. Although Cincinnati held close through the first half, the second half was all Iowa State.

With how Iowa State has struggled to open the second half and finish games with the same intensity as it started, it was a good change of pace to see the Cyclones get the job done early. Cincinnati is no slouch, so it was impressive to see the Cyclones separate themselves the way they did.

Turnovers became the name of the game again, as the Cyclones had another night of 25+ turnovers forced. Doing that on the road is a good sign of what is possible come tournament time.

With how Iowa State turns defense into offense, having the defense locked in night after night has led to the recent offensive outbursts. Nearly every Cyclone is putting up highlight reels as each game is better than the last.

Still impossible to win at Hilton

It was no surprise that the Cyclones defended Hilton yet again. Although home-court advantage will not help the Cyclones in the postseason, racking up wins over conference opponents will give them the confidence they need going forward.

Texas Tech may be hot and cold this season, but it is still a team that has posed challenges to other Big 12 teams in the past. Despite that, the Cyclones gained a lead early and clung to it through the entire matchup.

One thing to note from the win is Tamin Lipsey’s lack of minutes. It did appear he was nursing a small injury, which caused him to play cautiously. He still saw minutes, and other Cyclones came in to make up for another quiet night from the star guard.

Keshon Gilbert lit up the field, going 4-for-7 from deep and putting up 24 points. Curtis Jones also found himself in double digits yet again. In fact, five Cyclones ended in double figures, and Tre King was one score away from that threshold as well.

Balanced offense has been on display recently, which bodes well going forward. With tough defenses coming up, the Cyclones pose threats from anybody anywhere on the court.

What is Iowa State’s ceiling?

The big question following this week of Big 12 play is how far the Cyclones can go when tournament time rolls around.

The most recent seeding predictions had Iowa State projected as a No. 3 seed. That came out before the win over Texas Tech. With Houston next on the docket, the Cyclones have an opportunity to pull out a momentous upset win to take the top spot in the Big 12.

If the Cyclones can do the impossible and hand Houston its first home loss of the season, a top-five ranking is not out of the question, and a deep tournament run could be likely for the team.

This may be the most balanced and explosive offense we have seen from Iowa State in a minute. Pair that with a lockdown defense that rivals any team in the nation, and Iowa State’s ceiling is pretty high.

Getting the No. 1 spot in the Big 12 would be huge, but even without it, the Cyclones are still in a good spot going forward. A Big 12 title is not out of the question, and if they made a Sweet 16 run in a year with more struggles, it is not unlikely the Cyclones make a deeper run this season.

Although the Big Dance is impossible to predict and any team can win on any given night, the Cyclones have opportunities going forward to continue proving themselves and tack on more wins to what has become a historic year for the T.J. Otzelberger era.

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