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Cyclones plan to stay focused in regular season finale

Milan+Momcilovic+listens+during+a+timeout+at+the+Iowa+State+vs+Oklahoma+basketball+game+at+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Feb.+28%2C+2024.
Elizabeth Lane
Milan Momcilovic listens during a timeout at the Iowa State vs Oklahoma basketball game at Hilton Coliseum, Feb. 28, 2024.

AMES — The Cyclones will finish their regular season with a familiar opponent hungry for revenge as they travel to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on Kansas State on Saturday.

With just one game left before the Big 12 Tournament, the Cyclones will need to focus up one last time. With the Wildcats exiting Hilton on a sour note, they will be looking to catch the Cyclones off guard in the last game of the regular season.

However, Iowa State does not think focus will be an issue.

“For some teams, yes. I don’t think for this team it is, because we’re just so locked in,” Milan Momcilovic said.

Throughout the season, Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger has preached the importance of taking things one game at a time. The daily habits the team has constantly talked about are what helped them find success throughout the entire season.

Now the team will need to stick to those daily habits and one game at a time mentality one last time.

“They’ve done well up to this point, because they’ve stayed focused on the next practice, or the next film session or the next game, and that’s all you can do, and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Otzelberger said.

The hardest thing about staying focused and taking things one day at a time is knowing that the end is near. Otzelberger said that with the tournaments approaching, it is hard to stay focused on the next game with the fact that the end of the season is right around the corner.

Mistakes are more costly in March, as bad games could spell an early end to the season.

“When you’re playing games in January, you have months left of the season. Now one way or another, there’s probably one month left of the season for anybody, even the team that wins the whole thing,” Otzelberger said.

Despite all that, the Cyclones are planning to stick to what works. If they come out with the same intensity as the first time around, they can match up well with Kansas State.

Kansas State will be no easy challenge. The Wildcats boast a strong defense that focuses on ball pressure and good rebounding. With Iowa State’s focus on points in the paint, Kansas State could attempt to be the more physical and aggressive team Saturday.

Along with the defensive onslaught planning to take place, Kansas State is still fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid.

“They’re still trying to fight for their tournament life, so it’s gonna be a good one,” Jackson Paveletzke said.

That added fire could make Kansas State tough to tame.

“They’re a team that’s really hungry right now,” Otzelberger said. “They’re in a position where they’re trying to play themselves into the tournament, or to solidify that status I would imagine.”

Given all the factors, the Cyclones will have to find some sparks where they can. The offense has struggled in recent weeks, so with one game left, this could be one last opportunity to get hot at the perfect time.

One player at least is planning to heat up when the lights are the brightest.

“I promise you soon, this game or postseason play, I’m gonna start playing better. I’m gonna start knocking down some shots,” Momcilovic said.

The Cyclones are set to tip off with Kansas State at 1 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas. The game will also be aired live on ESPN2.

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  • D

    D | Mar 9, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    I’m sorry but I’m not really sure what I witnessed. I don’t understand why. TJ continue to let Gilbert lose this game for us. if you review this game you see the majority of the turnovers came from Gilbert. either he try to drive when there was no place to go or these crazy shots or these passes that didn’t go anywhere. this guy was a one game wrecking ball and just the first half was another yank him out of there. why we continuing to try to run an offense through him?

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