Sluggish start doesn’t stop No. 23 Iowa State

By Anthony Hanson, KURE 88.5 Sports Reporter

Iowa State Basketball warmups Aljaz Kunc
Iowa State forward Alijaz Kunc fires a three-point field goal during his team’s warmups on Nov. 30, 2022. Anthony Hanson/KURE 88.5

AMES—No. 23 Iowa State didn’t deny the cause of its ice-cold start.

The Cyclones needed a big second half to take down North Dakota 63-44 Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum and rebound from its first loss of the season.

Iowa State returned home as a top-25 team thanks to its performance at the Phil Knight Invitational.

But the three games in Portland, Oreg. brought tired legs and poor shooting back to Ames as a byproduct.

Iowa State admitted it.

“I hate to admit that would be a factor, but it probably was,” Otzelberger said.

“I think we were a little bit complacent even, coming off the win we had against UNC,” Iowa State center Robert Jones said.

On Friday, Iowa State took down No. 1 ranked North Carolina. One day prior, Iowa State defeated Villanova in overtime. In the final game of the weekend on Sunday, Iowa State lost to now No. 8 ranked UCONN.

Wednesday night, Iowa State started the game shooing one for nine from the field. The Fighting Hawks trailed by just two points at the end of the first half.

“We came out sluggish, and that’s not acceptable for this program right now,” Iowa State’s Caleb Grill said postgame. “We got to play like we did in the last 20 minutes of the game for a full 40.”

Grill was nearly perfect in the second half. The starting shooting guard connected on all four of his field goal attempts, including two three-point field goals. He led all scorers with 16 points.

The Cyclones did capitalize on North Dakota’s mistakes, as 26 points off 19 turnovers made up for poor offensive production.

Iowa State’s Jaren Holmes finished with only four points. The senior point guard had established himself as an offensive leader for the Cyclones so far this season.

He was named to the Phil Knight Invitational All-Tournament Team after scoring 15.0 points per game in Iowa State’s three matchups. Wednesday night, Holmes was quiet, finishing one for eight from the field in 24 minutes.

Holmes battled foul trouble as he finished the game with four fouls and had no steals.

Iowa State’s freshman point guard Tamin Lipsey responded nicely to his career-high on Sunday with another double-figure scoring night. Lipsey scored 12 against UCONN and followed it up with 11 on five of seven shooting on Wednesday night for the Cyclones.

The freshman from Ames is among three freshmen in the nation to average 5.3 points, 4.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Lipsey led the game with four steals on Wednesday night.

Jones also finished in double figures. The transfer from Denver matched his season-high of 10 points for the fourth time.

Iowa State’s Demarion Watson led the game with 10 rebounds. The mark was a new career-high for the Iowa State freshman. Watson also connected on a three-point field goal.

Iowa State will next face St. Johns at Hilton Coliseum in the Big 12/Big East Challenge on Sunday. St. Johns is undefeated in its five games so far this season.

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