Three Big Takeaways: Hunter, Brockington deliver knockout punch to Sooners


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State guard Tyrese Hunter goes up for a layup against Oklahoma on Feb. 19

Matt Belinson

AMES — One step at a time – or at least one possession at a time – was the message from Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger to his team during the Cyclones’ win against the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday.

Iowa State leaned on an aggressive style of offense more than usual, going downhill towards the basket, fighting through double-teams and attacking the rim throughout the game.

The result: Iowa State protected Hilton Coliseum with a 21-point victory over the Sooners 75-54.

The Cyclones are now 18-9 overall and 5-9 in the Big 12.

If it ain’t broke

You can probably fill in the rest, but the sentiment rang true for the Cyclones Saturday against the Sooners.

Iowa State went away from a barrage if three-point shots and chose to face the Sooners head-on by driving to the basket and fighting through contact.

The Cyclones have had a tendency to shoot themselves out of games in the past with upwards of 20 threes in a single game.  

“We just gotta continue to be who we are and who we can be and that’s the physical team – ball pressure, rebounding effort and toughness with the basketball,” Otzelberger said after the Cyclones’ 18th win of the season.

Iowa State shot a blistering 75 percent from the field in the first half, with only five attempts from three. And yes, that’s the best shooting half the Cyclones have had during Big 12 play this season.

The Cyclones kept hitting the paint to the tune of an 18-4 paint advantage at halftime.

“Focus, really that was a big thing,” Izaiah Brockington said postgame. “We just wanted to stay focused and not get complacent.”

Brockington did his usual thing and paced the Cyclones with 12 points at the break, and finished the game with 22 points on 10-13 shooting. While he was finding his mid-range spots, Brockington got up to the rim and finished through contact.

While Oklahoma outscored the Cyclones 20-14 in the paint in the second half, Iowa State’s best rarely strayed away from the plan.

And because of that, Tyrese Hunter started the momentum shift.

Hunter delivers

With 5:42 left to play, and the Cyclones leading 59-52, Iowa State’s young freshman point guard happened to deviate from what was working for him and his teammates. There was no time to make a drive to the basket.

Instead, Hunter, a 23-percent three-point shooter, pulled up from the top of the key and put in a three-point shot.

“That’s a huge shot,” Otzelberger said. “For Tyrese, we want him taking the right shots and we have confidence in him to do that, knock-em down, that’s something we’ve been talking about a lot. That was a big one for us.”

And then, the 15-0 run began and all but ended the Sooners’ chances.

After the three, the Cyclones made five of their next six baskets while the Sooners went 0-4 with a pair of turnovers in just under three minutes.

Hilton got rocking and the Cyclones got their swagger back. Was it the best stretch the Cyclones have played all year?

“I think it might have been,” Brockington answered. “Those runs start on the defensive end.”

The Cyclones put the hammer down and never let the Sooners regain the lead, in the process improving to 18-9 overall and 5-9 in Big 12 play.

Hunter ended with 14 points on 6-10 shooting, including seven assists and four rebounds. It’s the ninth time he’s scored in double-figures in Big 12 play.

“He’s got a court-demeanor and swagger to him that he’s continuing to grow and lean into,” Otzelberger said of Hunter. 

Offensive firepower?

It’s not that extreme, but the Cyclones’ offensive numbers can’t be ignored from Saturday. 

Iowa State shot 67.3 percent from the field (33-49), 53 percent from three (8-15) and scored 22 points off Oklahoma’s turnovers.

The 67.3 percentage is a school record against a conference opponent.

“It’s a lot of fun seeing that and the crowd get into it,” Kalscheur said. “It’s electric out there. It really brought the ‘Hilton Magic’ back to it.”

The Cyclones return to action 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum against West Virginia.