By Anthony Hanson, KURE 88.5 Sports Reporter
AMES—Strength on strength.
When No. 5 Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson faced Tamin Lipsey and Gabe Kalscheur on the perimeter, high-level scoring met high-level defense.
But in the matchup of top-15 teams, something had to give.
No. 12 Iowa State limited Kansas State’s high-scoring offense to 76 points, just below the teams’ season average of 77 points per game. The Cyclones led by as much as 10 and fended off a late rally to finish ahead of the Wildcats 80-76.
“It was our guys being so connected and making plays for each other,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said.
“I was so proud of our guys on how they shared the ball and took advantage of the opportunity.”
In the head-to-head battle between the Iowa State defense and the high-scoring Kansas State offense, Iowa State earned an edge, forcing turnovers and frustration for the Wildcats.
The Iowa State defense allows the fewest points per game (58.6) of any team in the Big 12 conference. Tuesday night, the Cyclone’s defensive prowess was tested by a tandem of prolific outside threats.
Johnson and Nowell for Kansas State appeared on the mid-season watchlist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy. With Nowell at point guard and Johnson on the wing, the pair averages 35.2 points per game.
They’ve led Kansas State to a 17-2 record, and entering Tuesday’s matchup, the Wildcats had scored over 80 points eight times.
The Iowa State freshman point guard Lipsey was tasked with guarding Nowell to start, and Kalscheur matched up with Johnson, setting the stage for a battle between Big 12 conference standouts.
The Wildcat duo finished with 31 points. The pair accounted for 9 turnovers, and Johnson found himself in foul trouble. He finished with three fouls, including one offensive foul, while facing double teams from the Iowa State defense.
For Iowa State, Lipsey had three steals; in total, Iowa State forced 14 turnovers. The Cyclones scored 25 points off Kansas State turnovers.
Iowa State now has wins over the top four scoring offenses in the Big 12, including Texas, Kansas State, TCU and Baylor.
Offensively for Iowa State, a balanced attack scored in key situations to keep Iowa State ahead.
The night’s leading scorer was Iowa State guard Jaren Holmes, but four Cyclones finished in double figures. Iowa State tuned up its efficiency as the back-and-forth matchup progressed. The Cyclones shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half.
“Jaren was dynamite,” Otzelberger said. “He scores the ball in tough areas. He was so dialed in.”
Holmes led the way in scoring but dished out a team-high seven assists. His fellow guard Kalscheur added 19 points to the box score while shooting seven for 11 from the field. Kalscheur’s final basket was a jump shot with 45 seconds remaining to put the Cyclones up by four.
Iowa State center and Osun Osunniyi was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Lipsey in the second half. Osunniyi scored 16 points inside for the Cyclones, while Lipsey added 10 points and four offensive rebounds. Caleb Grill was questionable for Iowa State after a back injury he suffered against Texas last Tuesday night. While going back and forth to the locker room, Grill scored five points, including a key three-point field goal with 5:19 to go.