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Staff Picks: No. 17 Baylor

Audi+Crooks+walks+down+the+floor+against+Baylor+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Jan.+13%2C+2024.
Tyler Coe
Audi Crooks walks down the floor against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2024.

Pavle Markovic, Sports Reporter

No. 17 Baylor 69, Iowa State 62

After what will be a full week off for Iowa State, the Cyclones patiently awaited to see which team they’d take on for their first matchup in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. After a round of games on both Thursday and Friday, the bracket has Iowa State taking on No. 17 Baylor in a rematch Saturday morning.

By the time these two teams play, it’ll nearly have been two full months since the Cyclones upset the then-No. 4 Lady Bears team at Hilton Coliseum. While it was a close finish with a 66-63 final, Iowa State once again showed that opposing teams will find it very difficult to come out of Ames, Iowa, with a win no matter what ranking they are.

Now both teams will be playing on a neutral site, as they both enter T-Mobile Center looking to advance for a chance to win it all. It certainly won’t be an easy task for the Cyclones to sweep a Baylor team that has surely been waiting for a potential rematch following the shocking upset in mid-January.

Iowa State was also the team to pass the Lady Bears up for the final double-bye spot in the Big 12 Tournament, which meant that Baylor had to play the winner of the Texas Tech-Houston play-in game Friday morning. The Lady Raiders came out of their matchup with the Cougars with a win but shortly fell to Baylor 71-60 which eliminated them from further contention.

The Cyclones will have to rely on their star center Audi Crooks throughout the game, as the All-Big 12 first-teamer has been Iowa State’s primary weapon this season. Getting the perimeter shooting going will also aid the Cyclones’ chances of beating Baylor yet again, as the Lady Bears lead the conference in holding opposing teams to their worst 3-point shooting percentage (25.5%).

With it being at a neutral site, and with Baylor already having a game under its belt to adjust to playing in Kansas City, I have Iowa State making a quick exit in the Big 12 Tournament as the Lady Bears get their revenge.

Brett Twelmeyer, Sports Reporter

Iowa State 75, No. 17 Baylor 71

The Big 12 Tournament is finally here. After an 18-10 regular season, and a 12-6 conference record, Iowa State earned a double-bye as a top-four seed.

There was a lot of good that came out of what was made out to be a rebuilding year for the Cyclones. The five freshmen were all key pieces, the transfers stepped up in big ways and the leadership from the returning players helped guide them all.

Freshmen Crooks and Addy Brown were the two Cyclones honored in the All-Big 12 awards this season. Crooks was a unanimous All-Big 12 first team selection, Brown was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and both made the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.

The first game in the Big 12 Tournament for Iowa State will be against No. 17 Baylor. The Bears also finished 12-6 in conference play but lost the tiebreaker to Iowa State and only received a single-bye as the five-seed and defeated Texas Tech 71-60.

Both teams are on an impressive win streak, as Baylor has won its last six games including the Texas Tech game and Iowa State won four in a row to close out the regular season. Something will have to give between these two red-hot teams as they both look to go all the way to the Big 12 title.

When Iowa State and Baylor played the first time, the Cyclones took advantage of the inside, as Crooks shot 10-for-16 and scored 23 points. Senior Hannah Belanger hit shots from beyond the arc when the inside was taken away.

Iowa State will need to not only rely on those two, but will need to have others contribute in order to score. The scoring margin between the two teams is even on offense at 75.3 points per game for Iowa State and 75.2 for Baylor, but Baylor’s defense gives up 59.3 ppg and Iowa State surrenders 68.1.

I picked Iowa State to lose against Baylor the first time and I was wrong. I do not want to be wrong again.

Give me Iowa State this time in front of what I expect to be a good-sized crowd of Cyclone fans in Kansas City. This game will be a dogfight all the way.

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