Iowa State squandered a three-point lead in Wednesday’s loss at West Virginia, meager in comparison to the 16- and 23-point road cushions the Cyclones have lost over the past few weeks.
Each of those leads transformed into a single-digit defeat for the Cyclones (16-7, 7-4 Big 12), who will aim to atone for the first loss in that string when they host Oklahoma State on Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State is 12-0 at Hilton Coliseum this season, most recently a 15-point home rout of then-No. 8 Kansas on Feb. 4.
Things turned sour when the Cyclones traveled to West Virginia four nights later, though. Sore, too. Iowa State was whistled for 30 personal fouls in the game, putting the Mountaineers in the bonus before the first media timeout of the second half.
While the Cyclones navigated foul trouble and produced a trio of double-figure scorers — including Tamin Lipsey, who had 16 points before fouling out — the obstacle ultimately proved too great.
“We need to be mentally tough to be able to withstand that,” ISU coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We need to do a great job of staying in the moment, focusing on the play that’s next. We’re not in control of those stoppages and we need to make sure we’re doing what we can to be mentally prepared for whatever’s coming at us on that next play.”
Life has been pretty good for the Cowboys (15-9, 6-5) since they rallied past Iowa State for a 61-59 win on Jan. 21. That victory is part of a stretch of six wins in seven games as Oklahoma State has climbed the league standings and improved its NCAA tournament outlook in a rugged Big 12 that aims to send numerous schools.
On Wednesday, Oklahoma State stretched its winning streak to four with a 71-68 victory against Texas Tech.
John-Michael Wright’s three-point play with 0.8 seconds to go was the difference as the Cowboys nearly coughed up a 15-point advantage.
“Just gotta find a way, man,” said Bryce Thompson, who scored 21 points. “It was a rough game but we just found a way. I think that’s where grit and toughness comes in and making those plays down the stretch that you need to.”
Oklahoma State’s shaky 3-point and free-throw shooting allowed Texas Tech to stay in the game. The Cowboys were 14-for-24 from the line (9-for-18 after halftime) while connecting on just 21.7 percent of their attempts from deep.
“We guarded for the most part and we rebounded, and that’s been a staple of who we are,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “And the reason that you try to put the emphasis on the defense is because sometimes you’re going to have those shooting nights. It’s the nature of the game.”
Avery Anderson III, who had surgery this week on his injured wrist, scored a game-high 18 points for Oklahoma State in the first meeting with Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi (15 points) and Gabe Kalscheur (14) led the Cyclones.
–Field Level Media