Iowa State attempts to snag its first Big 12 win, after a subpar conference opener

Lindell Wigginton, guard, looks for an open pass during the men’s basketball game against Alcorn State on Dec. 10 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones won 78-58.

Trevor Holbrook

Iowa State and the Texas Longhorns each opened their Big 12 men’s basketball seasons on Saturday against a team from Kansas.

Texas and Iowa State both lost, but the Longhorns finished tough, while the Cyclones were dismantled in the second half. With the Big 12 being a quality basketball conference, teams can’t afford to lose many conference games at home.

“It’s really important [to win against Texas],” said freshman guard Lindell Wigginton. “Home wins are crucial. We gotta win the most home games we can. Monday’s game is crucial. I think we gotta get that win.”

Against the Jayhawks, Texas was edged out, 92-86. Headlining the Longhorn offense is freshman forward Mohamed Bamba.

Bamba — a projected first-round NBA draft pick, if he declares for the draft — has increased his offensive production for Texas. On Friday, Bamba contributed 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

The 6-foot-11 Longhorn is averaging a double-double with 11.8 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game.

While Bamba garners a lot of well-deserved attention, the Longhorns have a balanced offensive attack.

Junior Dylan Osetkowski brings more height to the table, standing 6-foot-9. Osetkowski averages 14.8 points per game with 7.8 rebounds per game.

From the guard position, Texas relies on sophomore Andrew Jones and junior Kerwin Roach II for its scoring production.

Jones and Roach II consistently reached double-digit points in the non-conference slate of games.

The Longhorns utilized their diverse options to nearly knock off then-No. 11 Kansas. Meanwhile, the Cyclones had their hands full with Kansas State. A large part of Iowa State’s second-half spiral was due to a lack of energy and poor defense.

“I think we didn’t bring a lot of energy [in the second half],” Wigginton said. “We didn’t buy into the defensive end.”

Some of the lack of energy could be attributed to Iowa State’s depth. The Cyclones have been hit hard with injuries early this season. Sophomore guard Jakolby Long returned on Friday, but Iowa State was still missing senior Hans Brase and redshirt junior Zoran Talley Jr.

The Cyclones are likely equipped with the same available players against Texas.

“Zoran [Talley] will start practicing in about 7-to-10 days,” Prohm said after the Kansas State game on Friday. “Hans [Brase], right now, I would think he’s questionable.”

Even without Brase and Talley, Prohm still need more production from his team. If the Cyclones can shore up the defense, Iowa State’s offense still has to get more points.

If Iowa State plans to defeat Texas, senior guard Donovan Jackson needs to make a bigger impact.

After playing a prominent role off the bench last season, Jackson has been streaky in his senior campaign. Against Missouri and Milwaukee, Jackson only scored 10 points to start the season, while the Cyclones went 0-2.

Then, Jackson and Iowa State headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The senior had a dominant three-game stretch, scoring 26, 24 and 26.

The Cyclones built off the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, rattling off six more wins. During those six games, Jackson averaged 15.3 points per game.

If the non-conference schedule proved anything, it’s that Iowa State needs Jackson’s production to win. Friday’s Big 12 opener against Kansas State reaffirmed that.

Jackson scored one bucket in the first half. That was it. Jackson’s two-point night was paired with a 16-point loss for Iowa State inside Hilton Coliseum. In Iowa State’s three losses Jackson averaged four points per game.

If history is any indicator, a good night from Jackson probably results in an Iowa State win, while a bad night likely drops the Cyclones to 0-2 in conference play.