Three Big Takeaways: Balanced attack leads Cyclones past Longhorns


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Tyrese Hunter calls out a play against the University of Kansas on Jan. 11 in Allen Fieldhouse. Hunter scored 12 points in his first game in Allen Fieldhouse.

James Powell

AMES- The No. 15 Cyclones didn’t have the start to conference play necessary for that of a team with March Madness aspirations.

A tough schedule paired with some offensive power outages meant Saturday’s tilt with No. 21 Texas quickly turned into somewhat of a must-win game. Falling to 1-4 in this conference would not have been preferable.

T.J. Otzelberger knew as much.

“Let’s just call it how it is, we knew we were 1-3,” Otzelberger said. “Our guys had our backs against the wall in terms of, we needed a win.”

Iowa State played with the defensive intensity that has led it to this strong start. This game, however, they complimented that with a timely, balanced offensive output that led them to a 79-70 win in Hilton Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Spreading out the offense

Any coach in America would likely tell you that he’d take a spread-out box score as opposed to one guy putting up 30-plus points. At times this season, it’s been the latter for the Cyclones.

In two of Iowa State’s early marquee wins against Memphis and Xavier, it was Izaiah Brockington and Gabe Kalscheur who each put up 30 points in the respective victories.

Against Texas, the box-score looked a lot different. Kalscheur led the team with a strong 22 points on 8-16 shooting. From there, it was six guys with at least seven points that helped lead the Cyclones to the win.

“[I] couldn’t be more proud of our group, how together they were, how united, how everybody that came into the game brought something that was so impactful for winning,” Otzelberger said.

The only two players without at least seven points were George Conditt and Tre Jackson. Conditt was held scoreless, and Jackson had four points but added a couple nice defensive plays to boot.

As the wear and tear of the Big 12 season trudges on, it likely won’t be advisable to have one player carry a team’s offensive output. With more games like these, the Cyclones will be able to count on their entire lineup to contribute in meaningful ways come season’s end.

Tyrese Hunter continues to grow

Entering conference play, it had been a mixed bag for the freshman point guard. He hadn’t had one of “those” games, whereas veterans like Kalscheur and Brockington had shown flashes of elite play.

In his past three games, Hunter is averaging exactly 15 points a game and almost six assists per contest. Two of those games were on the road against Oklahoma and Kansas. Both were losses, but the growth in Hunter’s game was clear.

Saturday, he seemed to take it a step further.

The freshman had 13 points, a career-high eight assists, two steals and three rebounds. He went toe-to-toe with Marcus Carr, an established scorer for Texas. Carr had 15 points and six assists but shot just 4-14 from the field.

For Hunter, there would naturally be growing pains for a freshman. But now, he’s coming into his own, and his head coach sees it too.

“That was his best college game to this point,” Otzelberger said about Hunter’s performance against Texas. “He controlled the entire game, he commanded the game and he made the game go his way.”

Fouls aplenty

While picking up a quality win against a top-25 team, it wasn’t all rosy for the Cyclones. They got into foul trouble early and often, as did Texas, and it led them to some shifts to both teams’ usual rotations.

For the Longhorns, it started almost instantly. Their leading scorer, Timmy Allen, came in averaging 11.8 points per game in 28 minutes of play. 17 seconds in, he picked up two personal fouls and found himself on the bench early.

As for Iowa State, they ended the game with four players with four personal fouls and a couple more with three. Brockington was one of those players, and he saw shorter, altered stints as he battled foul trouble in the first half.

All in all, there were 42 fouls called and that large number played a role in how the game played out.