Iowa State relies on passing and rebounding in second game against Baylor

Senior Hans Brase and Junior Nick Weiler-Babb cheering on their fellow Cyclones during the game against the WVU Mountaineers on Jan. 31 at the Hilton Coliseum.

Brian Mozey

The basketball was flying from player to player during Iowa State’s possessions on Wednesday night against No. 15 West Virginia.

Whether it was a pass into the paint, a toss to the 3-point line or an alley-oop pass, the Cyclones were passing it to the right player at the right time. Along with the assists, Iowa State was dominant in the paint with 32 rebounds, 10 being offensive.

Those two aspects of the game allowed the Cyclones to upset the Mountaineers at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday with a 93-77 final score.

Iowa State will need to utilize these two parts of the game efficiently to take down the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas, on Saturday.

“I thought our effort was good [in the West Virginia game],” said coach Steve Prohm. “We shared the ball. Twenty assists on 36 baskets. That’s terrific.”

Iowa State earned its first Big 12 win of the season against Baylor on Jan. 13 at Hilton Coliseum. During that win, the Cyclones recorded 18 assists on 26 field goals made.

After the West Virginia win, Prohm talked about the team’s goal of 60 percent field goals made coming from assists. Iowa State reached that goal last game against the Bears as the Cyclones assisted on 69.2 percent.

The only problem is 10 of those 18 assists came from redshirt junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb, who will be out of this upcoming game due to tendonitis in his knee.

Weiler-Babb was out against West Virginia and Iowa State found its way to 20 assists from a combination of four players. Sophomore forward Solomon Young thinks assists will help the Cyclones score easier and get in the rhythm of the game.

“We’re a lot better team when we move the ball around,” Young said. “Then the team has to guard everyone on the floor. You can’t sag off of anyone because everyone’s a threat.”

Donovan Jackson had seven assists, Lindell Wigginton and Zoran Talley Jr. had five assists and Jakolby Long had three assists. Prohm expects the same type of passing against Baylor if the Cyclones want to come out with a win.

That passing came from key rebounds by Iowa State’s post players, specifically Cameron Lard and Young. That duo combination recorded 23 of the 32 total rebounds last night for the Cyclones.

Once the rebound was captured, it was passed to one of the guards who would lead Iowa State into a fast break opportunity. If the Cyclones can transition from a rebound to a fast break opportunity, they have a strong chance of winning because, all season, Prohm continues to say that type of offense is this team’s strength.

“Those [Baylor] guys are big and physical and long,” Prohm said. “We got to do a great job on the glass… we need to be physical in the post.”

Prohm said there were possessions against West Virginia where the Iowa State post players were slamming into guys and boxing out for rebounds. There were other times the Cyclone players were letting them have the rebounds.

For Prohm and his staff, it’s about consistency and making sure it’s the same mentality on every rebound and every pass throughout the entire 40 minutes.

Iowa State beat Baylor 75-65 from the help of Wigginton’s 30-point performance, but Talley Jr. knows the Bears will be looking for revenge.

Baylor is at the bottom of the Big 12 standings with a 12-10 overall record and a 2-7 Big 12 record. Iowa State is just above them with a 12-9 overall record and a 3-6 Big 12 record. It’s a battle of creating a winning streak for Iowa State and not being at the bottom of the standings for Baylor.

“We’re going to have to come out there swinging,” Talley Jr. said. “Throw the first punch.”