Cyclones eye first win streak in two months

Head Coach Bill Fennelly talks with the ref after a questionable call during the Iowa State Vs UC Riverside basketball game Dec 17. The Cyclones Defeated Riverside 89-66

Jack Macdonald

On Dec. 21, Iowa State defeated Nicholls State and on Dec. 28, Iowa State defeated Kansas. The significance: that’s the last time the Cyclones have won back-to-back games.

And on Saturday, when the Cyclones host Texas Tech, they have a chance to repeat that feat. On four separate occasions Iowa State has had a chance to win two in a row since the Kansas game, but this time, it’s different. It’s the first time in Big 12 play this season that the Cyclones are considered heavy favorites.

“Any time you win back-to-back games in this league it’s a good thing,” said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly. “I think every coach will tell you the more you can get winning streaks, even if they’re little wins and avoid the losing streaks, that’s how at the end of the year you kind of build some kind of record.”

Texas Tech comes in at a cool 1-13 in conference play. That lone win happens to be against Kansas, the last team Iowa State defeated at home. But the Cyclones know the Red Raiders aren’t going to hand them the game. 

Compared to the Iowa State, Texas Tech towers over the Cyclones. The Red Raiders, who have three girls taller than the Cyclones’ trio of 6-foot-3 players, will gain a boost of luck with Iowa State’s Bride Kennedy-Hopoate being out for the season.

Luckily, Iowa State has Claire Ricketts. Ricketts is coming off a game in which she grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and nearly reached a double-double with six blocks. To compare, 13 rebounds would put Ricketts four spots off from the NCAA Division I leader, and six blocks would put her as the best shot blocker in basketball.  

Along with the size, Texas Tech has thrown out some presses in their recent games. With the Cyclones’ track record against the press, the Red Raiders might want to run it the whole game. 

“They’ll play both man and zone,” said sophomore guard Nia Washington. “They’re post players have been doing pretty good… They’ll press a little bit.”

Last time the two met, Texas Tech ran a press in the second half. And much to the frustration of the Cyclones, it worked. The Red Raiders limited Iowa State to 24 second-half points and forced four turnovers. The pressure forced the Cyclones to shoot 8-for-31 from the field in the final 20 minutes of the game. 

However, Iowa State has made a turn for the better when it comes its play in the third quarter. Against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and TCU, the Cyclones have outscored the three 75-32 in the third quarter. Two of those games resulted in wins, while the Oklahoma State loss game down to the wire. 

“You have to play well in the third quarter to give yourself a chance,” Fennelly said. “In the games that we’ve won, we’ve done a good job of that.” 

But, whether Iowa State has a big third quarter or not, a win against Texas Tech would bring the life back to Hilton Coliseum and give the fans their first Cyclone win since in Ames since Dec. 28. 

“The fans deserve to see us play as well as we’ve been playing on the road,” Ricketts said. “We just need to focus just way we’ve been focusing at road games.

“A lot of people should be scared to play us at home.”