The independent student newspaper of Iowa State and Ames since 1890

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Milan Momcilovic’s early three fuels Iowa State’s hot night from deep

Tyler Coe
Milan Momcilovic makes a corner three to open the scoring at the men’s basketball Big 12 tournament semifinal game against Baylor, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, March 15, 2024.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just a day after knocking down one of their 14 3-point attempts, the Cyclones shot lights out in a dominating 76-62 win over Baylor to advance to the finals of the Big 12 Tournament.

Shots were falling at a high rate from beyond the arc, as the Cyclones shot 50% throughout the night. After a night of seeing nothing fall, it was refreshing for the team to instantly regain its confidence.

“Even if we don’t hit some nights, I feel like we know it’s gonna come back other nights,” Curtis Jones said. “You know you ain’t gonna hit all your shots every game, but some days you will. So, I was glad we was able to today.”

Despite the lack of 3-point shooting in the quarterfinals, the Cyclones still blew out Kansas State. The opposite happened against Baylor, as a lack of shots falling inside was made up for by shots falling outside.

The offense still moved even with the hiccups, as the Cyclones put up over 70 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the week of Kansas.

“Both days, we ran really effective offense,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said.

The 3-ball favored Iowa State early. The first make of the night came from the hands of Milan Momcilovic.

Momcilovic had been struggling to get things going from deep for weeks. He said that was the longest slump he had been in. So, when the ball came his way in the corner, it was a sigh of relief to see it fall through the net.

“That kinda set the tone for the rest of the game,” Jones said. “Shout out to [Momcilovic] for that.”

Immediately after, Tamin Lipsey started to heat up. Lipsey put a move on a defender in front of him to cross him up and send him sliding across the court on his butt.

Lipsey hit the step-back three to get his night started. On the next possession, he knocked down another.

“Tonight, obviously, we got it going from three right away. [Momcilovic] hits the first one. [Lipsey] hits two right away. It starts to build our confidence shooting it from long range,” Otzelberger said.

With shots falling left and right, every player got the green light. The defense sagged off Keshon Gilbert early in the game and he made them pay by knocking down a three at the top of the key.

Gilbert ended the night hitting 2-of-4 from deep and putting up 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Keshon Gilbert makes a running jumpshot at the men’s basketball Big 12 tournament semifinal game against Baylor, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, March 15, 2024. (Tyler Coe)

Jones also got hot from deep, as he shot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc throughout the night. However, it was Momcilovic who got hot at the right time.

Momcilovic’s efforts on the court bled into his teammates as he was not just hitting from the floor but creating opportunities on offense consistently.

With the second half starting up, Momcilovic hit one of the first shots as he knocked down another three from the corner.

“Hunting the shots. I’m too good of a shooter, and I’ve put too much time in to keep missing,” Momcilovic said.

With Momcilovic getting the ball rolling, the Cyclones went on a run in the first five minutes of the second half that saw Baylor hit zero shots and Iowa State knock down seven of its nine.

Gilbert followed Momcilovic’s lead as he hit a shot from the corner that bounced around and off the backboard and fell. On the next possession, Jones hit a shot from the top of the key to put the Cyclones up by 22.

“I think I got some really good looks, and if I get an open look like that, I think I’mma hit it every time,” Jones said.

With the Cyclones knocking down nearly 60% of their threes at the midway point in the second, the game was out of reach for Baylor.

Despite that, Momcilovic still decided to deliver the actual dagger.

With time running out, Baylor started to string together a small run. With the lead closing to nearly single-digits, Momcilovic caught a pass on the wing and let it fly immediately.

As the shot fell and T-Mobile Center exploded, it was clear Iowa State was moving on to the finals.

Even with Momcilovic breaking his shooting slump with a 3-for-6 night from deep, Otzelberger still saw room for improvement. Momcilovic’s confidence is on the rise, but there were still more shots he could have taken.

“I still feel like today, there were opportunities out there that he passed up that we would like him to take,” Otzelberger said. “These guys are confident in him, I’m confident in him, he does the work and I’m excited to see what’s in front of [Momcilovic] the rest of the way.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of the Iowa State Daily. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, send our student journalists to conferences and off-set their cost of living so they can continue to do best-in-the-nation work at the Iowa State Daily.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Iowa State Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *