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‘I believe we can win’: Cyclones confident going into Big 12 Championship

Tyler Coe
Tamin Lipsey points towards the Iowa State side of the court at the men’s basketball Big 12 tournament semifinal game against Baylor, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, March 15, 2024.

After back-to-back blowout wins, Iowa State is in for a big change of pace as it prepares to take on No. 1 Houston for a chance at the Big 12 title.

Houston is also coming off a pair of dominating wins. Both teams are proving why they are the top-two teams in the conference.

With games coming one after the other, the Cyclones will not have any time to breathe before facing off against the most suffocating defense in the nation. Despite that, the Cyclones are still confident going into the finals.

“We’re glad we got the win [Friday], but it’s a quick turnaround, so now we’re on to Houston, and I believe we can win,” Curtis Jones said.

The Cyclones know that if they lock in and take the game one play at a time, even Houston can be toppled. Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger’s preachings will be more important than ever against a team like Houston.

“We just need to keep our focus on the next play that’s in front of us,” Otzelberger said.

The biggest driving force in Iowa State’s powerful outings in the Big 12 Tournament has been the atmosphere of the T-Mobile Center. With Iowa State fans traveling in full force, Kansas City, Missouri, has turned into Hilton South.

With the crowd behind the Cyclones, the recent offensive slump has seemingly disappeared. Along with that, the defense is still performing up to its standard.

“We know what we gotta do, and I think that having the fans of Hilton South here in full force [Saturday] is gonna help us as well,” Tre King said.

With T-Mobile Center rivaling the atmosphere of Hilton, the Cyclones have a chance at a Big 12 title. The last time Houston went to Hilton, it left with its first loss of the season.

When the Cyclones went to Houston, the game played out in a similar way but with Houston on top. One theme was the same throughout: King said they were “physical battles.”

Even with the physicality, the winner of each game was the team that won the mental battle.

“We make it a point of emphasis to just try to outwill each other. It’s more of a mental game than it is physical,” King said.

With the game set to be physical, especially inside, it could come down to what team makes more shots. With the Cyclones finally finding their offense, they got revenge against teams that took advantage of a lack of offense.

Now, the Cyclones need to get revenge one last time.

“The last couple of games that we needed revenge, we got that. We played great,” Milan Momcilovic said. “So, now we need revenge tomorrow, because we lost to them at their crib.”

Momcilovic got back to his scoring ways against Baylor and plans to stay hot. He was the key factor in the Cyclones’ only win against Houston.

With the game on the line, Momcilovic knocked down the dagger at the end of the game to help push the Cyclones to a win. He plans to keep being that clutch playmaker when it matters.

“When we’re gonna need a bucket at the end of a game here… you can look my way,” Momcilovic said.

The Cyclones will fight for the Big 12 against Houston at 5 p.m. Saturday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The game will also be aired live on ESPN.

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